Blackhawks’ Daniel Carcillo returns to practice
BY HERB GOULD firstname.lastname@example.org February 14, 2013 10:13PM
Hawks winger Daniel Carcillo chases a loose puck in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 loss to the visiting Phoenix Coyotes November 29, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 14, 2013 10:29PM
When you’re deep, you’re deep.
Daniel Carcillo practiced with his teammates Thursday for the first time since he sprained his right knee in the Blackhawks’ season opener Jan. 19, and he seems ready to give coach Joel Quenneville one of those tough decisions he loves.
‘‘I feel strong on the ice,’’ Carcillo said. ‘‘It’s just a matter of time when I’ll get the call to go in.’’
That time won’t be Friday against the San Jose Sharks.
“We’ll see after a couple of practices,’’ Quenneville said. “He looked pretty good, skated well. He’s further along than we anticipated. We’ll keep pushing him, get in a couple of good skates and get a better idea of when.’’
When Carcillo went down, he had been skating on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. But rookie Brandon Saad has made a big impression in that spot.
Carcillo said he isn’t worried about where he plays, especially with the Hawks off to a sizzling start.
“It’s not up to me,’’ he said. “I just need to get ready and work as hard as I can. Wherever I get in the lineup, I’m going to be happy and grateful. The team’s been amazing. That’s why there’s been no real urgency [to return] on my part. All I can do is worry about myself. I feel like everything else will fall into place for me.’’
Despite being injured in the only game he has played since suffering a season-ending injury to his left knee Jan. 2, 2012, Carcillo is optimistic he’s due for a healthy stretch.
“Last year’s injury tested me both on and off the ice,’’ he said. “If I can get over something like last year, a little bump in the road like this isn’t going to affect me.’’
As competitive as the Hawks’ roster is, Carcillo figures to be given an opportunity because of what he brings to the team.
“He’s one of those players that can play in any role or any line,’’ Patrick Kane said. “And he has a lot of skill for a tough guy. He’s a player that can get under [the skin of] opposing teams’ best players. I think he’ll be real effective once we get him back. He’ll definitely be a help to our team.’’
NOTES: Ray Emery will make his first start at the United Center this season Friday against the Sharks. Emery, who has played at Calgary and twice at Phoenix, is 3-0 with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
“Ray hasn’t had a home game yet,’’ Joel Quenneville said. “He’s played very well for us. He deserves it.’’
◆ Marian Hossa finally will have the opportunity to shoot third the next time the Hawks find themselves in a shootout, Quenneville strongly hinted.
“That third spot, we haven’t got the production from it,’’ Quenneville said. “It looks like it’s an automatic [to try Hossa]. Hopefully, it becomes automatic.’’
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have been the Hawks’ first two shooters.
◆ Even though the Sharks are 0-3-3 in February after going 7-0-0 in January, the Hawks are bracing for Sharks with teeth.
“They’re a dangerous team in a lot of ways,’’ Quenneville said. “I have a lot of respect for their power play. They can get hot in that area real quick. They have a lot of guys that know how to score.’’
The Sharks’ power play, which was 12-for-32 (37.5 percent) in their first five games, is 2-for-34 (5.8 percent) in their last eight. That’s a big reason the Sharks have scored seven goals in their last six games after scoring 29 in their first seven.