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Rozsival likely to return Friday vs. Blue Jackets

Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw (65) skates past MinnesotWild's Matt Cooke (24) first period an NHL hockey game Chicago Thursday April

Chicago Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw (65) skates past Minnesota Wild's Matt Cooke (24) in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, April 3, 2014. (AP Photo/David Banks) ORG XMIT: CXA101

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Updated: April 3, 2014 11:45PM

Michal Rozsival could look on the bright side. After all, missing nine games over the last three weeks with a lower-body injury should leave him fresh and rested for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which is when he played his best hockey last year — breaking free of the sixth-man rotation and becoming a valuable every-day player.

But it’s hard to be positive when you miss so much time, particularly when you’re forced to watch your teammates struggle.

“That’s not the way I’m trying to look at it,” Rozsival said. “There might be [a benefit], but there might not. Every time you miss time, you lose your rhythm a little bit, and it’s always better to be in the games than to be out for a long period of time.”

Rozsival likely will return to the lineup Friday night in Columbus.

“It’s never nice, and it’s never easy to not be able to play,” he said. “And watching the team struggling in some games — it’s never easy to watch that.”

Moving on up

With Jonathan Toews out for the rest of the regular season, Andrew Shaw has moved up to the top line, between Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. It’s a big step up for Shaw, who’s usually in more of a checking-line role.

“You see how hard Jonny works, and it’s probably the toughest shoes to fill,” Shaw said. “It’s impossible to do so. But I’m going to do my best.”

Shaw said he won’t change his aggressive style in his new role.

“It’s a big responsibility, and I like taking that on,” he said. “I’ve got to play strong defensively and compete in those puck areas and get the puck out. I’m playing with two great players, and hopefully we can create some chemistry there.”

Handzus out

Michal Handzus was benched for the third period of the game Sunday at Pittsburgh, even after Toews was injured, leaving the Hawks thin up the middle. He was out again Thursday night against the Wild. Coach Joel Quenneville said Handzus is healthy and that both were coach’s decisions. He might play Friday.

“He’s done a good job PK-wise for us, and he’s responsible defensively,” Quenneville said. “He gives us what we’re looking for. He gives us some intelligence to his game, so he’s been all right.”

Johnny Oduya, who skated Thursday morning, was a last-minute scratch with a lower-body injury. He’ll sit out Friday night, too.


Twitter: @marklazerus

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