Situation helped dictate Patrick Sharp’s return to Blackhawks
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 7, 2011 11:08PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Everything surrounding the Blackhawks’ precarious playoff position — from the injuries to Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer to the absolute need to get two points against the St. Louis Bluesto a still-stagnant offense — likely were factors in the decision to allow Patrick Sharp back in the lineup on Wednesday night at the United Center.
Would Sharp have returned from his knee injury if it had been Game 40 and not Game 80 of the Hawks’ season?
“Game 40? Probably not,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the Hawks rallied to defeat the Blues 4-3 in overtime.
Sharp was sorely missed by the Hawks, who went 3-3-1 in seven games without him. Their offensive production declined, their power play struggled and their lines were changed often.
Against the Blues, Sharp took 26 shifts, played 19:37, assisted on Marian Hossa’s second-period goal and had a game-high seven shots on goal. That would be an impressive line for most players, but Sharp still has even better in him.
“It would be nice to practice,” Sharp said. “I thought it was a good start. Hopefully, I’ll do better [tonight].”
Still, it was gutsy effort by Sharp, who said he felt “good” after playing, but also a “little rusty.”
“It’s important for everybody to play well at this time of year and do what you can individually to help the team,” he said. “That is where my focus was at. There’s no excuses. I wanted to get out go there and play and do what I could to help.”
Quenneville thought Sharp gave the Hawks a boost.
“He brought a lot of spirit to our team and energy,” he said. “It was good to have him back. You have a lot more options when you’re putting lines together and having different looks. Certainly, he upgrades our skill level and offense.”
Rookie defenseman Nick Leddy recorded his first career multipoint game Wednesday with a goal and an assist. Quenneville said Leddy “has picked up his game” recently.
“I’m trying to get more shots,” Leddy said. “I got lucky on a couple of them, and one happened to go in.”
◆ EJ McGuire, vice president of the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, died ofcancer Thursday. He was 58. McGuire served as an assistant coach for the Blackhawks under former head coach Mike Keenan (1988-1991).