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Family matter shelves Marian Hossa

Marian Hossmissed game against Canucks. There’s no timetable for his return. | Bill Smith/Getty Images

Marian Hossa missed the game against the Canucks. There’s no timetable for his return. | Bill Smith/Getty Images

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:48AM



VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Marian Hossa missed the game Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, having flown home to Chicago for a family matter. There’s no timetable for his return to the road trip, which includes stops in Edmonton, Calgary, Dallas and Phoenix before the Blackhawks return to the United Center.

“I think it’s OK, but I don’t know yet,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks, already without Bryan Bickell, who’s back in Chicago with a lower-leg injury, had to play defenseman Sheldon Brookbank at forward again. Michal Handzus, who has missed 14 straight games with an upper-body injury, rejoined the team and participated in the morning skate but did not play. He was activated off injured reserve and could be back Monday in Edmonton.

“We expect him to rejoin us soon,” Quenneville said.

Handzus — who spent his summer working his way back from significant knee and wrist injuries — was relieved to finally be back on the ice.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I haven’t practiced with the team for a long time. Feels like two months. It was good to be out there.”

Rivalry rages on

This was the first of three meetings between the two bitter rivals this season. It has been two seasons since they last met in the playoffs — three consecutive postseason meetings created the rivalry in the first place — but the Hawks expected things to pick up where they left off.

“It’s a great rivalry,” Patrick Kane said. “All the players in here would probably tell you it’s our biggest rivalry now.”

Kris Versteeg, who played in the first two playoff meetings in 2009 and 2010, was excited to get back into the rivalry.

“I remember the series we had against them and the wars,” Versteeg said. “It all started back in ’09 when they were the favored team and we came in as a bunch of young bucks and ended up shocking them — and shocking ourselves.”

Said Jonathan Toews: “You’ve seen some rivalries, with teams like St. Louis, maybe evolve a little bit, but I don’t think this one’s going away any time soon.”

Heavy lifting

Corey Crawford started in goal for the Hawks, making it 14 straight games in which he has appeared. Backup Antti Raanta will play at some point on the trip, but Quenneville said Crawford’s experience and past success at Rogers Arena made him the logical choice.

“[Crawford] went [34] in a row [in 2011] to get into the playoffs,” Quenneville said. “[This run] wasn’t by design. That wasn’t in the plans, that he was going to be playing all these games. Our schedule was kind of light, and now it’s picking up. Antti will get in at some point on this trip.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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