After long layoff, Carcillo ready to hit the ice

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After long layoff, Carcillo ready to hit the ice

Daniel Carcillo had a lot of time on his hands this past year.

His last on-ice hit, on Jan. 2, 2012, was a painful one in two ways. Not only did he get a seven-game suspension for boarding Edmontons Tom Gilbert, but he also suffered a season-ending knee injury. The reconstructive surgery for that left knee was one year ago today.

Couple all that with four months worth of a lockout, and its been one long year for Carcillo. But the Blackhawks instigator used the time constructively, and not just rehabbing his knee.

I had a lot of time to myself and I looked at certain things I was doing in my life and decided to make changes, with and away from training, Carcillo said. It was a good reflection period. And it was good to grow physically and mentally.

Carcillo has worked on a few things during this long layoff, but he and the Blackhawks are still looking for him to keep that edge when the team opens its regular season Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. Carcillo was on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa throughout camp, a season after starting on the second line with Hossa and Patrick Kane. On that second line, he was agitating and, for the most part, kept on the right side of that edge.

Cars is an energy player, Hossa said. Basically, he can go hard to the net and get extra room for the chances, so its going to work out great for us. He gets his feet going and hes really a huge key in our line because he makes room for us.

The Blackhawks hope he does the same with Toews and Hossa.

He probably thinks won the lottery being with those two, coach Joel Quenneville said. We like his presence with that group. He started last year with Kaner and Hoss, and he was successful prior to injury. We want him to be a distraction for the goalie, be hard and be simple. Hes excited about being back.

Indeed, he is. Carcillo was skating with the Blackhawks in their informal workouts early in the fall. But once he was cleared, he was playing the waiting game just like everyone else. It wasnt always easy, before, during and after rehabbing that knee.

When something like that happens to you, you feel like you can go one or two ways: you sit and sulk about it or use it to drive you, said Carcillo, whos included meditation in his daily routines. I used (the time) to make changes in my life and its been good. When you have an injury like that, you just focus on yourself a lot more, you know? Im just glad to be back around the guys and be in this environment again.

And about that knee: it passed its first test on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks scrimmaged against themselves and several Rockford players. Physically, Carcillo is ready to go.

Im ready for the year, he said. That was a good test (Wednesday), and Im sure Saturday will be another one. Its just about getting back to being fast, being better.

And as far as the other changes, does that mean well see a calmer Carcillo?

I dont think so, he said. But maybe more in control, with more focused energy.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Coyotes tonight on CSN+

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight on CSN+ and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. A high-scoring affair?

In three meetings last season, the Blackhawks amassed 18 goals and captured victories in all three of them by final scores of 7-5, 5-4 (OT) and 6-2. The Blackhawks could use a high-scoring game, having scored only one goal or fewer in six of their last eight games. Of course, they could also use a win to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season. The good news is, they've had their way with the Coyotes for a while now, owning a 9-1-2 against them since the start of the 2012-13 season.

2. Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

The dynamic duo of Kane and Panarin gave the Coyotes headaches last year, combining for four goals and eight assists in those three contests. Even before that, Kane has given them problems. The reigning Hart Trophy winner has 10 goals and 26 assists in 29 career games against the Coyotes, averaging 1.24 points per game. It could be a long night for Mike Smith.

3. Get shots on net.

The Blackhawks have been outshot in six of their last seven games, which isn't exactly a formula for success despite them having a 3-3-1 record during that span. The Coyotes are coming to town as the worst team in the league, by far, in shots allowed per game at 35.4 and gave up 60 shots on goal to Columbus over the weekend. This should be a confidence-building game for the Blackhawks.

4. Control the puck.

To get shots on goal, you have to have the puck. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they should have it a lot tonight. The Coyotes are the worst puck possession team in the league, controlling only 44.6 percent of the even-strength shot attempts while the Blackhawks rank near the middle of the pack at 50.4. There's no excuse for the Blackhawks not to be in the offensive zone more than their own.

5. Rookies gone quiet.

Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tyler Motte all stepped up in large roles during the Circus Trip, but have been quiet on the scoresheet since the Blackhawks returned to Chicago. With Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews out, two of the Blackhawks' most important players, it's crucial to get contributions from every player to make up for those losses. The veterans have been leading the way lately, but it hasn't been enough for an offense that has dried up. Perhaps one of the young guns can provide that spark the team is looking for.

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Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys named to USA's preliminary World Juniors roster

Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys named to USA's preliminary World Juniors roster

Blackhawks prospects Alex DeBrincat and Chad Krys were selected to Team USA's preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships, USA Hockey announced Monday.

They're two of five players that have been brought back after helping USA take home the bronze medal at last year's tournament.

DeBrincat, the Blackhawks' 2016 second-round pick (No. 36 overall), leads the Ontario Hockey League this season with 28 goals and ranks second with 56 points in 26 games with the Erie Otters. The 5-foot-7 winger, who turns 19 on Dec. 18, had one goal in five tournament games last year.

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Krys, the Blackhawks' 2016 second-round pick (No. 45 overall), has one goal and one assist in 14 games so far during his freshman year at Boston University.

He's no stranger to international hockey.

Krys, 18, most recently sported the red, white and blue sweater last year with the U.S National under-18 team in the United States Hockey League, where he scored three goals and added 26 assists in 53 games.

The players will attend training camp from Dec. 16-20 in Buffalo followed by an additional camp from Dec. 20-24, which will include pre-tournament games on Dec. 21 against Switzerland and Dec. 23 against the Czech Republic, both of which will take place in Ontario.

The 23-man roster is expected to be finalized by Dec. 24.