By Mike Harrington
ST. LOUIS -- The daily David Backes question is hanging over the pivotal Game Five between the Blues and Blackhawks tonight in Scottrade Center, as the teams are tied at two wins apiece.
Will the St. Louis captain play after taking the suspension-causing hit from Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game Two? It appears the answer is no, as Backes did not take the morning skate today.
But this is the cloak-and-dagger show known as the playoffs and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is keeping people guessing.
"Like I said in Chicago, there's lots of rinks here in St. Louis too so you never know," Hitchcock said wryly. "He might just jump on the ice and be there skating in the warmup. Then you can all press 'send' on your tweets and away you go."
Former Sabre Derek Roy skated this morning in the middle of a top line, between Jaden Schwartz and T.J. Oshie, but stayed on the ice with scratches and continued to skate -- which is quite odd. Roy was still on the ice when the media left the Blues locker room to speak to Hitchcock, so Roy could be the stop-gap if Backes can't go.
As for the Hawks, they continue to look for offense from Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa -- who both are goal-less through four games after finishing 1-2 on the team in the regular season with 34 and 30, respectively.
"I'll take all the chances I can get," Sharp said. "It means I'm creating something and doing something good out there. Sooner or later they're going to start going in."
"I'm happy to play my 200-foot game," added Hossa, who has still done some good defensive work in the series. "I want to keep contributing there and my chances will come."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville put Patrick Kane (team-high three goals) back with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell this morning. Kane was not in the Hawks' crowded room when the media was inside. Hossa had been in that spot in Game Four.
Both coaches marveled at the intensity of the series and how big Game Five will be. The Blackhawks are 0-4 here this year and all four have been excruciating defeats.
"This is the advantage game, not the elimination game," Hitchcock said. "But we want the advantage."
Said Quenneville: "There's been some serious twists and turns inside of games here."