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Bickell comes back to already stacked Blackhawks

Updated: December 17, 2013 10:11PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blackhawks went 10-3-1 without Bryan Bickell as he rehabbed a knee injury suffered Nov. 19 at Colorado. But Bickell wasn’t expecting his return Tuesday in Nashville to be problematic.

“The team was going well when I was in the lineup, too,” he said with a smile.

Bickell, who was activated from injured reserve Monday, returned to his usual spot on the left side of the third line, with Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad, who moved from left to right wing.

“He’s got a presence, he gives us some size and some physicality,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Bickell. “Hopefully that can be a good line for us, knowing they all bring a little something different as a group of three.”

In Bickell’s absence, the Hawks relied on Jeremy Morin (who was sent to Rockford to make room for Bickell) and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to plug that hole. So Quenneville was glad to have his full complement of forwards for the first time in a month.

Bickell said his month away “felt like three months.” He played with a knee brace on his left knee — to match the one he’s been wearing on his right knee since the spring — but he didn’t think it would limit him.

“I played with it during the playoffs last year,” he said. “It takes a couple practices to get used to it. I feel by now I should be used to it, and hopefully I can in the future get rid of them. But for now, I’ve got to keep them.”

Hutton hot

Former Hawks farmhand Carter Hutton signed with the Predators in the summer and has established himself as an NHL-caliber goalie. He entered Tuesday with a 7-3-1 record and a 2.76 goals-against average. He also was named the NHL’s third star of the week after allowing just four goals in three victories over the Rangers, Stars and Sharks.

With Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin injured, Hutton said he doesn’t allow himself to wonder what might have happened had he stayed with the Hawks.

“I can’t complain. I’m in the NHL right now, too,” he said. “I was there for a couple seasons, and they didn’t really have the injuries. Crawford was pretty solid all the time, and Ray [Emery] went down a couple times but nothing too serious. You can’t really worry about that.”

Hutton said he texted his friend Kent Simpson after the Hawks rookie gave up a goal on the first shot he ever saw in the NHL on Saturday in Toronto.

“He was a little upset about giving up a couple goals,” Hutton said. “I told him don’t worry, he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him.”

Crow flies soon

Crawford (groin) is expected to resume skating in the next couple of days, Quenneville said.


Twitter: @marklazerus

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