Hawks won't have Hossa

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:23 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa's comeback isn't far enough along to be ready for the Maple Leafs, but there are still lots of motivated Blackhawks ready to step in tomorrow.

The Hawks, bidding to knock off perennial Central Division champion Detroit this year, if not win the President's Trophy for the first time in almost two decades, need to keep cashing in all their winnable games at the United Center, where they're already a league-best 8-2-1. After Toronto, the San Jose Sharks are in town and then it’s a six-game road trip.

"We have to keep things going in the right direction," coach Joel Quenneville said today. "We're playing a dangerous (Leaf) team that beat Detroit last week and we have to be respectful."

There is a 10-point gap between tomorrow's opponents, the Hawks are the NHL's best penalty killers, the Leafs the worst, and the Leafs haven't won here since 2003.

The Hawks have already overcome an early season injury to forward Jonathan Toews and though centre Dave Bolland just underwent back surgery, Hossa will return at some point next week. He passed his first light contact drills today without a problem after undergoing left shoulder surgery July 24.

"One more practice like this and I can get into (harder drills)," said Hossa, who could inject 30 to 40 goals into the Hawks' attack when he gets back.

The Slovakian winger has 36 points in 41 career games against the Leafs.

Forward Patrick Kane is looking to make a further impression on his potential Team USA bosses Brian Burke and Ron Wilson, the respective general manager and coach of the Leafs.

"(Wilson) and I had some fun together at the Olympic camp in the summer," Kane said. "He and Brian feed off each other and they're very comical. (Unlike Burke) some people like to hold back their comments. But I'll be concentrating on the game."

Cristobal Huet will likely get the start in goal for Chicago, already owning a record of 6-1 at home.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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