Joel Quenneville confirmed at the team's Wednesday practice that captain Jonathan Toews would miss "a couple of weeks" with a shoulder injury suffered in the first period of the Hawks' Tuesday night loss in St. Louis.
The injury comes at an inopportune time; the Hawks have a busy January schedule with seven games between January 2nd and 15th. A poor stretch of play could put the team's playoff chances in danger. They do not want history to repeat itself; The 2007-08 Hawks fell out of the playoff race in early January after a Toews knee injury led to a long losing streak.
Toews' injury only adds salt in an open wound. The team effort on Tuesday night was dreadful and it could be argued that John Scott was the best player on the ice for Chicago. He would be the first to admit that should never be the case.
Without Toews, Joel Quenneville once again has decisions to make regarding the lineup. Patrick Sharp may have to play some center, which wouldn't be catastrophic.
What things are necessary for the Hawks to stay afloat without their captain?
1. Kane needs to get/stay healthy and produce. I'm not convinced he was 100% in St. Louis. One of his worst games as a Blackhawk.
2. The goaltending needs to sustain its strong play. A couple of "goalie wins" in early January would go a long way toward keeping this team in the top 8.
3. The team compete level needs to return to Kane/Hossa injury form. Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday night that "Maybe we get a couple of our big guns back and everyone thinks it's going to be easy." This is the NHL. Nothing is ever easy, especially when you are defending a Stanley Cup.
Struggling to stay in the top 8 without their captain, it is officially gut check time for the Chicago Blackhawks.