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Blackhawks look to be at full strength against Canucks
By Ben Meyer-Abbott
The Blackhawks should have both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp in the lineup Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Joel Quenneville described Sharp’s return to the lineup as “likely” for the game at Rogers Arena. It comes less than four weeks since he reportedly broke a bone in his left wrist against the Detroit Red Wings when he was slashed while scoring his 20th goal of the season.
“In my mind I’m ready to go, I’m 100 percent,” Sharp said. “I feel great and I’m excited to play in this building. I can’t wait to be back and I’m ready to get going.”
Sharp didn’t go into whether or not he had any hesitations about returning to the lineup on the shorter end of his projected recovery time or if he would be see fewer shifts or less minutes, but did reiterate he was ready to handle whatever the minutes that do come his way.
“We’ll see. That’s Joel’s department,” Sharp said about his playing time. “I’m 100 percent healthy, ready to play. He’ll use me the way he wants.”
Toews, who placed on Injured Reserve, but missed just one game along with the All-Star festivities, also returned from a hand injury.
The two rivals split their two previous games this season, with the road team registering a four-goal win both times.
Hawks newcomer Brendan Morrison will be paired on the second line with Sharp and Marian Hossa. Morrison, who spent eight seasons with the Canucks and lives in Vancouver area, said he hasn’t gotten a sense of the rivalry between these two teams yet, but is eager to get off to good start with his new team.
“It just goes to show you when you’re on the outside looking in, it’s a bigger deal,” Morrison said. “Not that it’s not important to these guys, it is. It is a big deal. … Some games are bigger than others and this is one of those games.”
Corey Crawford gets the start in goal for the Hawks, but he won’t be facing his Game 7 adversary from last season’s divisional playoff series against the Canucks. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has opted to start Cory Schneider rather than Roberto Luongo.
It’s the second high-profile matchup Luongo has missed this month. Vignuealt also sat him against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. But Schneider said he isn’t reading too much into the decision.
“I just read into it coach trusts both of us,” Schneider said. “I think it says he has faith in me to play these games and confidence I can win them. To me, it helps a lot and it shows that it doesn’t matter whether Lu or I are in the net.”