Hawks won't rush Handzus back
Center Michal Handzus was to miss his ninth straight game on Thursday against Phoenix and isn’t expected back anytime soon.
Handzus has an upper body injury that is either a wrist problem similar to the one he played through in the Stanley Cup Final, or a concussion. There have been reports of both.
“I still thought maybe he could be out a little longer here, and he could be,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following Thursday’s morning skate. “We said we’d give him as much time as needed so it’s not like we’re going to rush him back.”
Handzus’ time on the shelf has opened the door for Brandon Pirri to play center on the second line and he has flourished with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes have given the Hawks fits in recent years dating back to two seasons ago when they took the Hawks down in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
“They’re a good road team and play a smart, patient game,” Quenneville said. “I just think we’ve got to be respectful of what they can do, but we’ve got to do whatever we can to get a W tonight.”
For the Coyotes, everything good starts with goalie Mike Smith.
“You can look at their lineup and say they don’t have any superstars, but they’ve got good goaltending,” Kane said. “They’re very defensive and don’t give up much. We’ve got to make sure we come out flying at home after a few days off.”