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Michal Handzus returns as team gets healthy

Chicago Blackhawks defencsman Duncan Keith (2) checks EdmontOilers right wing Ales Hemsky (83) during first period an NHL hockey game

Chicago Blackhawks defencsman Duncan Keith (2) checks Edmonton Oilers right wing Ales Hemsky (83) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Edmonton, Alberta, on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan) ORG XMIT: JCU101

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Updated: December 27, 2013 6:21AM



EDMONTON, Alberta — It’ll be at least a couple more weeks until Bryan Bickell returns and puts the Blackhawks back at full strength, but they’re getting closer.

Michal Handzus saw almost 13 minutes of ice time (two hits, no points) in his return Monday after missing 14 games with an upper-body injury.

Defenseman Michael Kostka also rejoined the team for the first time since suffering a foot/ankle injury during a practice on Oct. 22 in Florida. He’s still on injured reserve, but coach Joel Quenneville said he could play in one of the final three games of the circus trip.

And Marian Hossa, who left the team on Saturday to attend to a family matter, will be back for Wednesday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

“We haven’t had many injuries over the last few years,” Quenneville said. “It’s nice to see a full lineup, and all the options available.”

Handzus skated at left wing on the second line with Brandon Pirri and Patrick Kane.

Sympathy pains

Kane, a Bulls fan and an acquaintance of Derrick Rose, was disappointed to hear that Rose is out for the season.

“It’s tough, especially when you go through it all last year, and then you’ve got to go through it all again after being excited about him coming back,” Kane said. “I’m sure he’s probably the one that feels the worst about it. For a guy like that, you just pray for him and hope that he can come back even stronger. I feel bad for him. And it’s not good for Chicago, either.”

High value

The Hawks were named the fifth-most valuable franchise in the NHL by Forbes. The Hawks are valued at $625 million, behind the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.15 billion), the New York Rangers ($850 million), Montreal Canadiens ($775 million) and Vancouver Canucks ($700 million).

Still going

Corey Crawford (24 saves) made his 15th straight appearance. He reiterated after Saturday’s win in Vancouver that the extra work didn’t bother him.

“Nah, I work hard in the summer to be ready and I just take it game by game,” he said. “We have enough time to recover. We have a day in between [games]. Should be enough.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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