If it were May 1, or June 1, and not April 1, Patrick Sharp wouldn't be sitting out tonight.
"It's still not where it needs to be to play," the Blackhawks winger said of his injured shoulder. "But if it was Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I'm sure I'd be out there. When it's ready to go, I'm going to play. I'm not going to miss games just to be cautious. I want to be out there and play whether our team's winning or losing."
That said, the Hawks clearly are being cautious with both Sharp and Hossa, neither of whom will play tonight in the first of three meetings this week against the Nashville Predators. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said both "could play" Thursday against the Blues, but that he was playing it safe.
"They're real close," he said. "The fact we got a couple extra days here [we can be] more than cautious. More than ready, when they come back, is kind of what we're looking at."
Said Hossa: "Every day is helpful, and I think it's smarter."
Sharp hasn't played since Ryan O'Byrne crushed him against the boards on March 6, though he says in terms of conditioning, he feels better than he even did then. At the end of Monday's optional morning skate, Sharp was digging pucks out of the corner and taking contact.
"I think every time you get injured there's a mental aspect to it," he said. "You want to make sure you feel safe out there and put it behind you. You can't be thinking about getting hurt or playing safe to stay healthy, because that's when ultimately you do get hurt. Mentally, I feel I'm past the injury, it's just a matter of getting put in the lineup.
NOTEWORTHY: Corey Crawford will start for the second straight day in net for the Hawks. ... Nashville center Mike Fisher (hand) will not play tonight. Fisher is third on the team with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists).