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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
With return of Kane, Hawks actually healthy

By Jesse Rogers

ST. LOUIS -- The return of Patrick Kane to the Chicago Blackhawks lineup gives them a rarity at this time of year: health.

Though Fernando Pisani is under the weather, the Hawks don’t have anyone listed on their injury report so Joel Quenneville has some pleasant -- albeit tough -- decisions to make about his lineup.

“It’s a healthy situation to have competition internally, whether it’s to play or how much or with who,” Quenneville said. “It can be healthy in the right situation. It can be negative if not approached properly as well. Guys that aren’t playing, you want to make sure their attitude is in the right place.”

Pisani, Jordan Hendry, and Ryan Johnson will sit out against the Blues.

Here are the projected lines with the return of Kane:

Troy Brouwer/Jonathan Toews/Kane
Tomas Kopecky/Patrick Sharp/Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell/Dave Bolland/Jack Skille
John Scott/Jake Dowell/Viktor Stalberg


Curious move: The Blues might give the Hawks a belated Christmas gift. For inexplicable reasons head coach Davis Payne has elected to start backup Ty Conklin in net on Tuesday.

Conklin played in the last meeting between the teams on Nov. 30. He gave up seven goals in a 7-5 Hawks' win.

“Just like any situation where a guy doesn’t have success, the best medicine is to get back out there and get back up on that horse and get playing again,” Payne said. “His last game was very good in Atlanta and we expect him to keep doing that.”

Making it more mysterious is the fact starter Jaroslav Halak is coming off a shutout -- usually a prescription for getting the next start. Conklin is 4-2-1 with a 3.28 GAA and .881 save percentage. The teams are separated by two points in a tight Western Conference and both sides claim this to be “a big game” making the move even more of a head-scratcher.

“I’m more worried about what we have to do and our own decisions,” Quenneville said when informed. “I don’t worry about the others.”

Halak participated in all drills during practice and will back-up Conklin.

Return from injury: With Kane returning at less than 100 percent from an ankle injury, the issue of “going after player’s injuries” came up in the Blues dressing room.

“You don’t do that,” defenseman Barrett Jackman said. “There is kind of a code. Or just common sense. You don’t go out there and try to hurt a guy. You might go out there and play him tough, but you don’t go after an injury. It’s our livelihood, and you hope the other team doesn’t do that but, still, you play them physical and play them tougher.”

Jackman admitted there are a “handful” of players in the league who would break that code.

Bickell streak: Bryan Bickell’s career-high point streak is at six games. He’s hit the 20-point plateau for the first time in his young career with 10 goals and 10 assists. His 10 goals ranks fourth among NHL rookies.

“I think my parents are into it more than I am,” Bickell said of the streak. “The two points is what we’re looking for. If the streak is there it’s there.”

Penalty-less: The Blues are notorious for being among the league leaders in penalty minutes but they achieved a penalty-free game on Sunday against Nashville, in a 2-0 win. It’s the first time since 2004 that St. Louis has played a game without being called for an infraction. The Hawks have played disciplined as well. They’ve only given up seven power-play attempts in their past four contests, including a penalty-free game against Detroit on Dec. 17.