CHICAGO – Marian Hossa has waited long enough to ensure he is fully healthy.
“There’s no reason to wait longer,” Hossa said Wednesday after practice.
Hossa, 34, expects to return to the Blackhawks’ lineup tonight against the St. Louis Blues after missing the previous six games because of an upper-body injury. Teammate Patrick Sharp is expected to miss his 12th consecutive game as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury suffered March 6.
The Hawks hope both players will provide a boost in the final three weeks of the regular season. The trade deadline passed Wednesday, but the Hawks kept quiet, which meant the acquisition of veteran center Michal Handzus on Monday marked the team’s lone move at the NHL level.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he was confident in his team despite no major trades.
“It’s been a good fit,” Quenneville said. “The chemistry has been good with our group.
“The combinations up front have been pretty predictable. The back end has been better than it’s been in the past, and our goaltending has been real strong. I think we’re very pleased with the way things have gone along this year.”
Second tour: Handzus knows that much has changed since his previous stint with the Hawks during the 2006-07 season.
“It’s totally different,” Handzus, 36, said with a smile. “I remember 10,000 people in the stands.”
Multiply that by two and add a couple of thousand, and you’ll have today’s attendance when the Hawks play host to the Blues. Handzus, whom the Hawks acquired from the San Jose Sharks this week in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has played in 939 career games.
“He can take faceoffs, he can play both wings,” said Quenneville, who was Handzus’ first NHL coach during the 1998-99 season in St. Louis. “He’s a smart player. Versatile in a lot of ways.”
Another turn: Corey Crawford will start in net tonight, Quenneville said.
Crawford, who earned his 15th win of the season Monday against Nashville, is 8-1-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average in 10 career games against the Blues. That includes two wins against the Blues this season in which Crawford has turned aside 38 of 40 shots.
Hawks bits: Patrick Kane missed Wednesday’s practice because he was sick, but Quenneville said Kane was likely to play tongiht. … The Hawks recalled forward Brandon Bollig from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL before Wednesday’s practice.