VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Patrick Sharp is out tonight, and Ray Emery will back up Corey Crawford when the Chicago Blackhawks face the Vancouver Canucks tonight at Rogers Arena.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival is likely out and Michal Handzus is sounding questionable for tonight. Handzus suffered a “stinger” in his shoulder two games ago after he and Viktor Stalberg collided; it’s unclear if that’s what the problem is today.
Sharp’s return could come Wednesday against the Edmonton Oilers, coach Joel Quenneville said this morning. Daniel Carcillo wasn’t skating among the line rushes this morning, but it looks like he’ll draw in after all.
The Canucks, 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, have all but wrapped up the Northwest Division. Cory Schneider, who stopped 33 of 34 shots in a shootout victory over Detroit on Saturday, will start against the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks don’t have a ton to play for over these final four regular-season games, although the Presidents’ Trophy is still there to be captured. The Blackhawks could clinch that with a victory tonight and a Pittsburgh regulation loss to Ottawa. The same probably could be said for the Canucks, as mentioned above. Where the animosity level will be between these two tonight is uncertain. Still, as Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said this morning, “it’s Blackhawks-Canucks. That’s all you’ve got to say.”
Jonathan Toews doesn’t see the energy this matchup brings dissipating tonight, either.
“We both always feel there’s a chance we’ll bump into each other in the playoffs, and if it does happen it’ll be beyond the first round (this season). But no matter what position either team’s in, we’re both preparing to play best hockey come playoff time,” he said. “And what better preparation than a matchup with the Canucks. We’ll expect a good one from them tonight.”
Stalberg doesn’t see as much venom coming in this one.
“Obviously it’s a game where there might not be as much on the line as there has been in a couple games in the past,” he said. “We want to keep our good feeling and keep improving, and I’m sure they feel the same way. It’ll be a tough game and have high tempo, but there may not be a lot of extra-curricular activity. We’ll see.”