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Sharp back, LeBlanc to make debut

4/25/2013

EDMONTON -- Patrick Sharp is back in the lineup, Ray Emery gets the start in goal and Drew LeBlanc will be making his NHL debut Wednesday as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Edmonton Oilers.

There's also the matter of trying to wrap up the President's Trophy for the Blackhawks, who can clinch the top spot overall and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs with a win.

"I'm excited, I can't wait to get out there," said Sharp, who has missed the last five games with a shoulder injury. "I know I've played a couple of games recently, but it's been a long time since I've been back in the swing of things.

"Hopefully, everything goes well tonight and I can just rejoin the team and things go well."

Sharp was originally hurt on March 6 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

He went on to miss 14 games with a separated shoulder after being hammered into the boards by Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne.

Sharp initially returned from the injury on April 9 against the Minnesota Wild, but two games later was sidelined again.

"The toughest thing coming back will be the timing," Sharp said. "When you sit out you get a chance to train a little harder and work on your conditioning because you're not playing those games.

"But you can only skate by yourself so much before you lose that timing. Thankfully I'm playing with good players, with a good team and they make that a lot easier to come back."

With Dave Bolland still out with a groin injury, Sharp is expected to play on a line with rookie LeBlanc, who'll be inserted into the lineup against the Oilers.

LeBlanc, this year's Hobey Baker Award winner as the best collegiate player in the country, signed with the Blackhawks earlier this month out of St. Cloud State.

"It's a great chance to get him to play and we're excited about seeing him as well," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. "It's a big game for us and we're looking forward to see how he plays.

"He's been with us now for a little bit and had some practices. With Bolland going out this is a chance for us to see what he can do and I look forward to it. We want him to go out there and play with confidence, play his game, keep it simple and play hard."