Olesz ready to do whatever it takes for Blackhawks

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Olesz ready to do whatever it takes for Blackhawks

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011Posted: 6:45 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
Rostislav Olesz is just looking for his opportunity.

The new Chicago Blackhawks forward is fully healthy after having right knee surgery six months ago. Hes not sure what line hell be on, whether or not hell be a net presence guy or what role hell have on special teams. It doesnt matter.

Anything. Ill do anything the team needs me to do, he said. Whatever it takes.

The word that comes up with Olesz a lot is potential. Hes had his injuries, including that knee and a sports hernia in early 2009. Hes had two 14-goal seasons, including 2009-10 when he played in 78 games.

But hes been skating for a while now, passed his physical on Friday and said hes way past the struggles he had immediately after surgery.

It was really tough because my right leg was not healthy, not 100 percent with the strength, Olesz said. But I feel comfortable on the ice now. Ive got the new brace and theres no limitation at all.

So now, the 6-foot-1, 214-pound Olesz has to tap into that potential. Joel Quenneville said he watched Olesz on Saturday and didnt mind him. It should also help Olesz to have fellow Czech and former Florida Panthers teammate Michael Frolik here with him.

He has familiarity from the Florida days here and hopefully that can help his transition quickly, Quenneville said. This guy can play. Hopefully he can elevate his game where hell be a big part of our team.

Olesz has talked plenty with Frolik, who came here last February and completed his transition with a strong postseason. Frolik said Olesz could be advantageous with his strength.

Hes a big body. Hes very strong and hes hard to get off the puck in the corners, Frolik said. The injuries have stopped him (in the past). So far hes been good and he can play 100 percent again.

Defenseman Steve Montador, who also played with Olesz in Florida, echoed that sentiment.

He has a lot of skill mixed with a very strong body, Montador said. He can control the puck, work the puck along the walls. He may not be the biggest height-wise but hes a thick guy. You put all that together and if hes comfortable here, can get it going, hell have a lot to offer.

Oleszs time is now. General manager Stan Bowman said Friday it was just a matter of figuring out where Olesz fits into the lineup. If he can find his niche, the potential could turn into consistent performance.

Yes, its coming. My best hockeys coming, Olesz said with a smile. Everything will be new for me and Im really looking forward to it.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

“Obviously [I want to] get back and playing the same way,” Kruger said. “First I want to get healthy and then get back playing my best and do everything I can for the team.”

Blackhawks updates: Why Joel Quenneville is starting Corey Crawford vs. Canucks

Blackhawks updates: Why Joel Quenneville is starting Corey Crawford vs. Canucks

Corey Crawford will start but Marcus Kruger won't play yet when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

Scott Darling is coming off a 30-stop shutout in the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over Boston on Friday night. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was some consideration given to start Darling in this one, too, but, "at the same time we want Crow playing as much as he can to get back to the great pace he had prior to being away."

"He hasn't been bad. But certainly that's what we're looking for him to get back to," Quenneville said on Crawford. "I like giving Darls some consideration. We'll see but [Darling] certainly enhanced his positioning."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Meanwhile, Marcus Kruger skated with the Blackhawks for the first time since hurting his hand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 30. He took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice but was not among the line rushes. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is for either Tuesday or Thursday but, "knowing we have that [All-Star] break, we'll see how he feels and what our options are."

Kruger said he felt, "pretty close."

"I tried to take it day by day and prepare to play," Kruger said. "Obviously not tonight, but the next game we will see." 

BLACKHAWKS VS. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
6:30 p.m.
TV: WGN
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks
Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm).

Vancouver Canucks (via Canucks)
Forward lines

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Alex Burrows
Markus Granlund-Brandon Sutter-Jayson Megna
Brendan Gaunce-Michael Chaput-Jack Skille

Defensive Pairs
Alex Edler-Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa-Chris Tanev
Alex Biega-Nikita Tryamkin

Goaltender
Ryan Miller

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Anton Rodin (knee), Ben Hutton (hand), Jannik Hansen (knee), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Philip Larsen (upper body), Derek Dorsett (back).