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Frustrated Sami Lepisto back on the ice

Sami Lepisto

Sami Lepisto

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Updated: January 10, 2012 8:26AM

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Sami Lepisto knows he could’ve played better when he was the Blackhawks’ sixth defenseman earlier this season. But by no means was he “terrible.”

After being out of the lineup for eight consecutive games, Lepisto was back for the first time since Nov. 18 when the Hawks faced the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

“It’s frustrating to have to sit out that long,” Lepisto said. “But what can you do? I have to battle through it. . . . I haven’t played the best I can. I realize that. But I can always be better. I should be better. I’m not sure if I was terrible [before], in my opinion.”

Taking the place of veteran Sean O’Donnell on the third defensive pairing with Steve Montador, Lepisto had a pretty solid outing in 12:31 against the Islanders in only his ninth game this season.

Lepisto had been a healthy scratch in 12 of the Hawks’ last 14 games. His longest stretch in the lineup was five games from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6.

He said this is the most he has sat in his career, but he has no regrets with his decision to sign a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Hawks.

“I don’t really regret what I’ve done. I can’t change anything,” said Lepisto, who played in a combined 70 games with the Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets last season. “With how I’ve been playing, of course I’d like to take a couple of plays back.”

Lepisto, who entered the game with a career rating of plus-24, said he hasn’t talked too much to coach Joel Quenneville about his lack of playing time.

But Quenneville commended his approach in practices.

With the Hawks having eight defensemen on their roster, Lepisto realizes it’s a fight to stick in the lineup.

“Everybody realizes who the top guys are and who are not,” Lepisto said. “We have eight guys here. Everybody is playing OK. So it’s tough.”

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