EDMONTON, Alberta – Patrick Sharp is back in, Ray Emery is starting and Drew LeBlanc will make his NHL debut when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at Rexall Place.
Duncan Keith also addressed the media regarding his exchange with a female reporter in Vancouver on Monday, on which he commented on her being a “female ref.” Keith said he was just “frustrated” after the loss to the Canucks, and “that’s all it was.”
The reporter in question, Karen Thomson of Team 1040 in Vancouver, said via Twitter yesterday that she’s “moved on” from the exchange. Keith -- who has always dealt with this reporter professionally and respectfully -- said he has, too.
[RELATED: Keith takes exception to reporter's question]
Meanwhile, back to the games...
For Sharp, tonight is a chance to shake the rust off before the playoffs begin. He said he felt good just a few minutes into the Blackhawks’ April 9 game against the Minnesota Wild, when he returned from his shoulder injury the first time, and doesn’t expect it to take long tonight, either. It’s just about getting the timing back again.
“You sit out, you train a little harder and work on conditioning. But you can only skate by yourself so much,” Sharp said. “Thankfully I’m playing with good players and that makes it easier to come back.”
One of those players will be LeBlanc, who is understandably excited about his debut tonight. LeBlanc said assistant coach Mike Kitchen hinted that LeBlanc would play, and coach Joel Quenneville made it official at skate.
“I didn’t expect to get in there because it’s such a good team. I don’t think there’s a reason to switch up too many things right now. They’ve been rolling all year. But to get in there, to get my feet wet, will be a good experience,” LeBlanc said.
The Blackhawks can claim that Presidents’ Trophy if they beat the Oilers in any fashion tonight. That, however, hasn’t been easy, especially at Rexall Place. The Blackhawks have been beaten badly here over the past few seasons, something they hope to reverse tonight.
“For some reason we get into that game to run and gun. We’re one of the better teams at that, and they seem to be even better (at it),” Viktor Stalberg said. “We have to keep it tighter and play defense first. We know we’re going to get our chances. they’ll give you chances. But we can’t get into that run-and-gun game I guess.”
Dave Bolland is out tonight with a groin injury. Quenneville is hopeful that Bolland returns before the playoffs begin.