Blackhawks

Hoge On The Hawks: Handzus’ Role Becoming More Apparent

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Michal Handzus (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Michal Handzus (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

UNITED CENTER (CBS) When the Blackhawks traded for Michal Handzus Monday, many wondered where he exactly fit on the team.

Handzus will play in his first game with the Blackhawks tonight against the Blues and at Thursday’s morning skate, it became more apparent what his role will be.

The 36-year-old center skated on the fourth line in the morning skate, but he wasn’t at his familiar position. Instead, he was on the right wing with Marcus Kruger staying at center and Brandon Bollig on the left side.

“Krugs has done a real good job at center so I don’t think we’ll move him out of there, but Handsy is probably more efficient on faceoffs,” head coach Joel Quenneville said after the skate.

Thus, expect Handzus to be used in a way where the Blackhawks will still exploit his greatest strengths, but at a less familiar position. At 6-5, 217, he’s a checking-line center who will be playing wing Thursday night, but he’ll still take the majority of the faceoffs on the fourth line and will be used on the penalty kill as well.

Who’s In, Who’s Out

After missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness, Patrick Kane was back Thursday and will be ready to play tonight.

“It wasn’t the flu,” he said after the morning skate. “Just didn’t feel that well yesterday. I don’t know. Just nice to kind of get a day off and regroup and relax and sleep it off.”

Meanwhile, Niklas Hjalmarsson was not on the ice Thursday morning, but Quenneville said he’s fine and will play tonight.

With the addition of Handzus, Daniel Carcillo was not on the top four lines, so expect him to be a healthy scratch tonight.

Probable Lines

Brandon Saad — Jonathan Toews — Marian Hossa

Michael Frolik — Dave Bolland — Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell — Andrew Shaw — Viktor Stalberg

Brandon Bollig — Marcus Kruger — Michal Handzus

Follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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