Hawks hope Sharp can make quick return

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Hawks hope Sharp can make quick return

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Posted: 12:53 p.m. Updated: 3:32 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

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.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."