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Blackhawks ‘welcome’ tough call of where to put returning Dan Carcillo

Hawks winger BrandSaad puts shot Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth first period Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks NHL game February 12

Hawks winger Brandon Saad puts a shot on Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Anaheim Ducks NHL game February 12, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 14, 2013 6:49AM



The Blackhawks are close to getting fully healthy, and coach Joel Quenneville is close to making a difficult decision.

Winger Daniel Carcillo, who injured his knee in the first game of the season at Los Angeles, started skating last week and was on the ice along with Steve Montador (concussion) and Rotislav Olesz (knee) before Tuesday’s morning skate. Quenneville said Carcillo could return to actual practices as soon as this week.

‘‘He’s doing good,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘He skated today. We had three guys skate prior to practice, and they’re all progressing.’’

Carcillo was projected to miss a month when he was hurt Jan.  19, and his rehab has been on schedule. That means he could be available to play as soon as next week. Carcillo was playing on the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa when he was hurt in his first game back since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his other knee last January. But rookie Brandon Saad has stepped into that role and performed very well.

Quenneville has been reluctant to change much of anything during the Hawks’ 10-0-2 start, but he’s not concerned about where Carcillo will fit in the lineup.

‘‘No, we love those kinds of decisions and we welcome tough ones,’’ he said. ‘‘The depth is something we went into the start of the season [knowing] you’re going to get tested and challenged. Today we looked relatively healthy, but we’ll see. Danny had a great game his first game back. Hopefully he’ll be at that same pace when he gets back.’’

Tough scratch

Hawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank spent the last four seasons with the Anaheim Ducks but was a healthy scratch Tuesday. Michal Rozsival took the sixth defenseman spot for the second straight night.

“It definitely stings a little more when it’s against the old mates,’’ Brookbank said.

Brookbank had played seven straight games until Rozsival re-entered the lineup in Nashville.

‘‘It’s a good problem for the team to have,’’ Brookbank said. ‘‘I feel like both of us are capable of playing every night, but it’s just the way it goes. I understand it. I’m definitely not thrilled about not playing, but at the same time, we’re first in the conference.’’

Ageless wonders

The Ducks’ top two scorers are Teemu Selanne (age 42) and Saku Koivu (38). Selanne had a team-high 14 points in 11 games entering Tuesday, but that included a four-point game in the opener at Vancouver, a four-point game this past Saturday at St. Louis, and a three-point game against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 1.

So has Selanne discovered the fountain of youth?

‘‘On some nights,’’ Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said with a laugh. ‘‘I’ll say, ‘How do you feel?’ He’ll say, ‘I’m like a box of chocolates. Just open it up, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you get the good chocolate, sometimes not so
good.’  ’’



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