Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Blackhawks [Print without images]

Friday, December 2, 2011
Smith likely to face Islanders on Friday

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Smith is "likely" to play Friday night when the Hawks host the New York Islanders, according to Joel Quenneville.

Smith sat out the last four games as a healthy scratch after being recalled from the AHL and promptly made his season debut in two contests the Hawks lost by a combined score of 14-4 in Western Canada.

Quenneville didn't single out Smith for anything in particular in those losses but indicated he needed a few practices to get back in NHL shape.

"We'd like to get him up to that pace," Quenneville said. "Get him comfortable in our team game and his own game. I think he's useful, let's get him in there."

Smith ran drills with Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell the last two days at practice as Dave Bolland has missed time nursing an undisclosed injury. Bolland is expected to play Friday night.

It's unclear who's place Smith would take in the lineup but Bickell didn't have a point in the month of November and is a candidate to be a healthy scratch for a second time this season.

"It's just a matter of working hard and playing with more confidence," Smith said. "It's not an easy transition coming up from the American League. That shouldn't be an excuse. I want to play. I want to play well and contribute."

Sami Lepisto and John Scott are likely to be the other healthy scratches for the Hawks. Corey Crawford is in goal while native Chicagoan Al Montoya starts for the Islanders.