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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Kruger, Kane, Montador sit out practice

By Jesse Rogers



CHICAGO -- After getting knocked around like a rag doll over the past few games, Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger missed practice on Tuesday due to an upper body injury believed to be related to a head shot he first sustained in a game against Pittsburgh last week.

“Hard to say,” Joel Quenneville said after practice. “I don’t know if there was a defining blow or not.”

Kruger missed the game before the holiday break but took the ice for the Blue Jackets’ contest on Monday. He was promptly hit hard three times in the opening period.

Brandon Pirri skated with the second line in Monday’s game and again in practice on Tuesday.

“I’m working on my consistency, and I think my game has come a long way,” Pirri said.

Patrick Kane missed Tuesday’s drills with an illness while Steve Montador had a “maintenance day," according to Quenneville. Daniel Carcillo practiced again as he’s nearing a return from a head injury.

“[His conditioning] gets better every day,” he said. “The team is playing well and we’re winning.”

2010 feeling: Captain Jonathan Toews was asked several times about similarities between this year’s team which reached 50 points quicker than any other in the league and the 2010 squad which won the Stanley Cup.

“Even when we don’t play our best game we can find a way to win, and I think that was one of the biggest things about our team a couple years ago,” Toews said. “We had different guys stepping up every single night, and we’re seeing more and more of that right now.”

Toews cited the recent play of Viktor Stalberg as well as the recalls from the minors as examples.

“We know there is a handful of guys, at least, that can do that,” Toews said. “It gives us the confidence that we can keep playing good hockey even if we have a couple of our key guys out of the lineup.”

Quenneville upset: Twice in the final moments of practice on Tuesday Quenneville didn’t seem pleased with his team’s intensity. He called them to center ice and said a few harsh words as they wrapped up.

“We’ve been off for a while,” Quenneville said of the first practice since before the holiday break. “We want to make sure we had pace. We want to get back to, ‘pick it up.’ ”

The players got the message.

“Just practice hard,” Carcillo said. “We were a little slow, hopefully that doesn’t carry over to [Wednesday].”