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Patrick Sharp bolsters his case for spot on Team Canada

Updated: January 30, 2014 6:58AM



ST. LOUIS — As he takes his game to new heights, Patrick Sharp is also pushing the boundaries of humility of late, almost aggressively downplaying his stellar play and deferring credit to his teammates. So the last thing he’s going to do is make his case for a coveted spot on Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics.

At least, not vocally.

“That’s not really my decision,” Sharp said. “All I can do is just let my play speak for itself. My focus right now is helping the Hawks win games.”

With 22 goals and 19 assists — including six goals in his last three after scoring in the first period Saturday in St. Louis — his play is speaking volumes. In Friday’s rout of Colorado, Sharp had a hat trick, but his best play was a defensive one that led to his lone assist — catching up with speedy Matt Duchene and taking the puck away from him on a breakaway without taking a penalty, then wheeling around to fire a stretch pass to Jonathan Toews for a goal the other way.

Still, thanks to Canada’s bounty at forward, the perception all season has been that Sharp is on the bubble with the Jan. 7 roster deadline looming large. And while Sharp is reluctant to toot his own horn, his teammates and coaches aren’t.

Toews — one of the most respected and important voices on Team Canada — said he can’t imagine Sharp gets left off this time around.

“I don’t think that’s even an option,” Toews said. “I don’t think there are any holes in his game.”

Toews pointed not only to his numbers and his defense, but to Sharp’s production in both of the Hawks’ Stanley Cup runs (11 goals and 11 assists in 2010, 10 goals and six assists in 2013) as proof that he’s a big-stage performer.

And Joel Quenneville said Sharp is having “his best season to date

“I think he earns a lot of consideration,” Quenneville said.

Crawford close

Corey Crawford, who has missed nine straight games since injuring his groin Dec. 8 against Florida, traveled with the team to St. Louis and skated again in the morning. Quenneville said he doesn’t expect Crawford to dress for Monday’s home game against the Los Angeles Kings, but that he’s targeting either the Jan. 2 game on Long Island or the Jan. 3 game in New Jersey for Crawford’s return to the net.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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