The Chicago Blackhawks say Marian Hossa will be back in the lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final and that the line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell will likely be reunited.
Hossa was a surprise scratch Monday, sidelined with an upper body injury.
“He’s expected to play tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said of his star winger, who skipped the morning skate at Boston’s TD Garden on Wednesday. “He’s fine.”
Quenneville also all but confirmed that he will reunite Toews, Kane and Bickell. The Hawks need some offence, having failed to beat Tuukka Rask in 122 minutes 26 seconds dating to the first period of Game 2.
“We had some success against L.A.,” Toews said of playing with Kane and Bickell. “Whatever the combinations are, we’ve got to find a way to score.”
The Hawks found themselves circling the wagons somewhat after former Hawk Tony Amonte criticized Hossa for not playing in Game 3.
He told WEEI-FM 93.7 in Boston that it was “just not good enough.” He also said when you reach the final, “I think you play until you can’t play anymore,” noting Bruins forward Nathan Horton is playing with a shoulder injury.
Quenneville dismissed the comments.
“If he could play, he would play, so we don’t need to discuss that,” he said of Hossa. “We know how competitive he is and what he means to our team.”
Bickell echoed those words.
“He wanted to play, and I bet you anybody would, but he didn’t think he would help the team in any way ... He talked to the team before the last game saying he was sorry and he wanted to play, but he’d feel better to give it that extra two days’ rest and make sure he could be ready for tonight.”
Hossa is tied for the team lead in playoff points with 15 (seven goals and eight assists).
Boston leads the best-of-seven Cup final two games to one.
The numbers all favour the Bruins, according to the NHL and the Elias Sports Bureau.
— Since going to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams leading the final 2-1 have gone on to capture the Stanley Cup 83.0 per cent of the time (39-8).
— The Bruins are 2-0 all-time when holding a 2-1 series lead in the final. The Blackhawks are 0-3 lifetime when trailing 2-1.
— The Bruins are 11-2 in their last 13 games, with both losses coming in OT. They have outscored opponents 40-21 over that stretch.
— Since tying Toronto in Game 7 of their first-round series with 51 seconds remaining in the third period, the Bruins have trailed for just 57:43 of the 850:54 they’ve played (6.8 per cent) and have not trailed by more than one goal during that time.
— The Bruins have won seven straight at home, outscoring opponents, 21-10. They haven’t allowed a goal in their last 186:28 of play at TD Garden.
— The Bruins have won each of their four Stanley Cup Final games contested at TD Garden, outscoring the opposition, 19-3.
“We know the importance of the game,” Quenneville said. “We’ve got to come in here and win a game. Coming off our last game, there are some positives to take out of it.
“The areas, things we basically have to concentrate to improve on are obviously faceoffs and our power play needs to ignite us as well. But we definitely know how important the game is.”
As for the Bruins, coach Claude Julien said his job is to keep his players in the moment.
“We’re in a stage right now where I think we just got to stay focused,” he said. “My job is to keep our team focused on the present, not the future. That’s the most dangerous thing right now, is to try to look ahead. We have a job to do tonight — not tomorrow, but tonight. I think our guys have to be ready for that challenge that we’re going to get tonight.”
Game 5 goes Saturday at Chicago’s United Center.