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Marcus Kruger filling in for injured Dave Bolland

Updated: December 13, 2011 9:10AM



There’s no telling how long Blackhawks center Dave Bolland will be out with his foot injury. So it’s a good thing that rookie Marcus Kruger feels up to the challenge of filling his spot on the checking line.

“You get excited,” Kruger said of getting a chance to take Bolland’s place. “You’re in the best league and going against the best players. That’s something you want to do.”

When Bolland is out of the lineup, the Hawks will tell you there’s a gaping hole because of his absence. When he’s playing, the Hawks feel confident about being able to come at opponents with four lines.

So there’s some pressure on Kruger, who was praised by the Hawks’ brass for his two-way game before he even played in the NHL.

After being recalled a game into the season, Kruger had been solid on the fourth line, playing primarily with veteran Jamal Mayers on his wing.

Kruger centered for Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik for the second consecutive game Friday against the Calgary Flames. Kruger’s line didn’t have a consistent matchup against the Flames, but it still had strong shifts.

“Still, no matter what and who you face, you’ve got to play your game and your best,” Kruger said.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville characterized Bolland’s injury as “not long term” Friday. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if he missed at least one more game. He is wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

So how does Kruger feel about playing with Bickell and Frolik?

“They’re both good players,” the Swede said. “It’s just trying to find some chemistry with them and holding on to the puck.”

Corey’s story

The Hawks are well represented on the All-Star Game ballot with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook listed. But Toews was surprised that goalie Corey Crawford wasn’t included among the 18 goalies listed, including several who have worse numbers than Crawford.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Toews said. “He’s one of those guys [who is] slowly getting there. He’s proving himself to be one of the best in the league. [Honors] will come for him.”

Quenneville felt the same way, saying, “he’s still a young kid.” But he was happy to see six of his players on the ballot.

“Our core group, we’re fortunate to have such a quality group of guys that can play,” Quenneville said.

Slap shots

Defenseman Sean O’Donnell and Sami Lepisto were healthy scratches for the third game in a row as Steve Montador and John Scott continue to make up the third defensive pairing.

◆ In honor of Veterans Day, the Hawks wore camouflage jerseys during warmups for the third year in a row. The jerseys will be autographed and auctioned at chicagoblackhawks.com, with all proceeds benefiting the USO of Illinois.



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