Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

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Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

Daniel Carcillo is just itching to connect on a goal.

The Blackhawks left wing has come close a few times, including Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, but figures hes just pressing too much right now.

Nevertheless hes looking forward to that first goal. OK, and even that first fight.

You cant buy one in the West anymore. My first year in Phoenix (with the Coyotes), it was every night, said Carcillo, whose been biding his time in that category. Obviously you dont want to fight when youre up unless someone takes liberties on a teammate. That hasnt happened. Its just little things I think about, just a way to chip in.

He has been chipping in. Its just that, so far, hes done it with his forecheck instead of his fists.

Carcillo has fit just fine on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, a combination that balances Carcillos penchant for attracting opponents attention with his linemates thriving in the space that creates. He was there again on Wednesday, giving Kane enough space to send that highlight-reel pass to Hossa for a goal.

You see Kanes highlight a lot but Danny was driving the net and distracting the goalie and defenseman, coach Joel Quenneville said. I dont think hes that one-dimensional guy who just provides energy. He has skill, ability, and hell get better playing with those guys once hes more familiar with them.

Kane appreciates Carcillos work on the ice, if not his talking off it.

Sometimes you have to tune him out on the bench because he talks too much, Kane said with a laugh. Hes good for us because hes that personality on the ice; teams are more worried about him than just focusing on us two. So its nice to have that out there.

Its not a total surprise to see Carcillo among the top lines. In his first season with the Flyers he was with Mike Richards and Simon Gagn for a good chunk of games. And hes reveling in this opportunity.

I know I can play with those types of guys. I never wanted to be just a fourth-line kind of guy in this league, he said. Every games different; Q likes to shuffle lines, so if its not going one particular period itll get changed up. Its a particular game I play and if Im not playing it, its noticeable. So I just have to be ready every night.

The line most thought wouldnt last past a game or two is still doing just fine through nearly three weeks. Still, Carcillo admitted he was taken aback when he originally found out this assignment.

Its been a bit of a surprise, coming back from (a two-game) suspension and being thrown on that line. I didnt expect that, he said. But I know what my job is, whatever line I play on and especially with those guys: get them the puck and get on the forecheck. Theyre two of the best in the league, so I just have to play Xs and Os.

So for now, the potential KOs will take a backseat. Carcillo has behaved himself, avoiding pot-stirring incidents. Quenneville said he commends Carcillo on his early-season discipline and is happy with his work with Kane and Hossa.

Carcillo is happy with his opportunity.

This is a good situation, he said. I just wanted to come here and show what I can do. And I think Ive been doing pretty good.

Briefly

Corey Crawford will start Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks will be looking for their first victory in Carolina since Jan. 14, 1998 (they won 4-1).

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco ready for 'fresh start' with Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco lingered near the end of the Blackhawks' practice on Saturday, watching as fellow Slovak/now-teammate Marian Hossa drew a few things up on the dry-erase board.

Having a few familiar countrymen's faces (Hossa and Richard Panik) in the room helps. But for Jurco, just getting a fresh start is a welcome sight.

Jurco skated on the third line with Marcus Kruger and Hossa, and it looks like he'll make his Blackhawks debut there when the team hosts St. Louis on Sunday night. Jurco spent the last few seasons with the Detroit Red Wings but couldn't find a steady place in the lineup. Now here, he's hoping to change his fortunes.

"I mean, it's been tough couple of years for me in Detroit, so I was talking to [general manager] Ken Holland and we were discussing some options. I wasn't progressing in the last year or so, so I think this is a great time to push my game to another level," Jurco said on Saturday. "Like I said, this is another fresh start for me and I'm very excited for it."

[MORE: Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues]

Jurco joins a Blackhawks team that is surging (winning eight of nine) these last few weeks of the season. He and Hossa played together in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, so there's some familiarity as well as friendship there.

General manager Stan Bowman said Friday night that, based on Jurco's skills and the Blackhawks' style of play, Jurco should fit in well.

"I think he's going to get better here," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's going to get a little bit more comfortable with how we have to play, knowing that you want to go right through the puck and you want to pressure. Offensively I think he's got a chance to recapture some confidence. I think he moves well. I like his size. [It's] just getting a little more comfortable with our game and trusting his own instincts right off the bat."

It was time for a change for Jurco. Whether he blossoms like Panik, who came here from the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and is now putting up career numbers as part of the Blackhawks' top line, remains to be seen. It's an opportunity nonetheless, and Jurco is ready to take advantage of it. 

"It was a number of different reasons in Detroit it didn't work out for me. I wasn't playing much, so that's obviously tough. And when you don't play for a few weeks and you play a couple of games, it's very tough," Jurco said. "I'm very happy that I'm here and excited for tomorrow."

Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues

Blackhawks' Niklas Hjalmarsson out Sunday vs. Blues

Niklas Hjalmarsson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury but he will not play on Sunday when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues, coach Joel Quenneville said.

Hjalmarsson left with a little over eight minutes remaining in Thursday night's 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. He missed morning skate that day and, prior to the game, was seen wearing a wrap around his back. Whether or not that is the injury, however, is unknown. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will give Hjalmarsson time to regain full health, especially at this point of the season.

"I think he knows his body and he knows when he can fight through certain things. Giving him enough time to get back to where he's basically 100 percent is what we want," Quenneville said. "That's why he left the game last game. We want to make sure that when he comes back – you know, there's certain things you can fight through, and with him he can go through anything. Let's make sure at this time of the year that he recovers from this."

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Quenneville said the Blackhawks will go with the six defensemen they currently have. The last time Hjalmarsson missed a game due to injury was late February/early March of 2012 (six games with an upper-body injury).

"He's a warrior, he gives you everything you want in a big game like tomorrow's. Certainly missed him in the last game," Quenneville said. "We haven't exposed too much not having Hammer out there in important shifts, but it's a good chance for other guys to get critical and important shifts, and hopefully that helps them in their games as well."

Briefly

- Jordin Tootoo also missed practice (illness).

- Corey Crawford will start vs. the Blues.