Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Posted: 12:53 p.m. Updated: 3:32 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
Patrick Sharp has arguably been the Chicago Blackhawks most consistent player this season. Now hes sidelined while the Blackhawks try to hold on to a playoff spot.
Sharp is out with a left knee injury and coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks hope to have him back before the end of the regular season. Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks this season with 34 goals, was hurt in a knee-on-knee collision with Phoenix defensemanRostislav Klesla at the end of the first period on Sunday.
He had a noticeable limp when he came out for the Blackhawks team photo prior to Tuesdays practice.
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We hope to have him back before the end of the regular season, thats where were at right now, Quenneville said. Its not long term, but right now long term is (long enough). He feels better these last couple of days, so well see his progress the next little bit.
The injury could have been worse it couldve been (like) Jordan Hendry, said Quenneville, referring to the defensemans season-ending torn ACL. Still, considering Sharps offensive output this season, the Blackhawks need to hold on in the West and the absence of center Dave Bolland (concussion), its a big hole in the lineup.
Sometimes (injuries) are all at the same time. Weve had stretches this year where its something youre dealing with, Quenneville said. Weve been resilient in a lot of ways and have a group that wants to get it done. Were not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We want to welcome the challenge.
The Blackhawks went through something similar to this in December, when they were without Marian Hossa (lower body) and Patrick Kane (ankle) for most of the month. The Blackhawks went 5-2-1 without the two, including the Dec. 5 victory vs. Calgary in which Kane was hurt 65 seconds into the game.
No one wants to be (injured) but quite a few guys are banged up in every locker room, said defenseman Brian Campbell , whos coming off a foot injury he sustained March 8 against Florida. Hopefully you can just play through them.
The Blackhawks will make adjustments among their forwards. Forward Marcus Kruger, who has played mainly center, is en route to Chicago from Sweden. Kruger had six goals and 29 assists in 52 games in Sweden this season.
Its an opportunity for us to assess him quickly and see how he fits right in. Were missing two important players, he plays center, so well see how that works out, Quenneville said. Hes got real good instincts and that could help quickly.
Viktor Stalberg joined Jonathan Toews and Kane on the top line at Tuesdays practice. Stalberg, who has been strong in recent games, played with the duo earlier this season.
I dont think anyone expects me to replace Sharpie, but Ill try to do everything I can, Stalberg said. (Toews and Kane) are one of the best tandems in the league. Any time you get a chance to be on the ice with them you feel pretty fortunate.
Quenneville said Stalbergs earned the opportunity.
He gives that line some speed; that was noticeable in (Sundays) game and we liked what he provided. When he played with them earlier in the year he did a good job. Hes been more efficient with the puck and hes going to get some high-quality opportunities offensively. Being responsible defensively helps.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.