BOSTON – Marian Hossa was absent from the Blackhawks’ morning skate Wednesday at TD Garden, but coach Joel Quenneville continued to downplay questions about his status.
“He’s expected to play tonight,” Quenneville said.
Why did Hossa not take part in the morning skate with his teammates?
“He’s fine,” said Quenneville, who declined to elaborate.
As a team, the Blackhawks will not be fine unless they earn a Game 4 win.
The Boston Bruins have a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, which means that the Hawks need a win in Game 4 to even the series before it returns to Chicago. The Hawks overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings but might not be able to do the same against the Bruins, who have won 11 of their past 13 games and feature a stellar goaltender in Tuukka Rask.
If Hossa is able to play after missing Game 3 because of an upper-body injury, he is expected to be on the second line alongside Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp. If Hossa is unable to play, veteran forward Jamal Mayers could make his postseason debut. Mayers skated alongside Handzus and Sharp on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Quenneville reunited Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line during the team’s morning skate. Toews and Kane were joined by big-bodied forward Bryan Bickell, who has eight goals in the playoffs but has not scored during the Stanley Cup Final.
“We’re presenting this like a Game 7,” Bickell said. “If we get the win, we’ll be 2-2 going back home with momentum and home ice. Or it could be 3-1.
“I think it’s do or die. This is the biggest game in a lot of guys’ lives. I think it’s important that we have a good start.”