“Return” was the theme at Blackhawks practice on Thursday morning at the United Center.
After playing a handful of games at his familiar right wing position, Patrick Kane lined up at center during team drills between Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Sharp, a likely forecast of where he will begin Friday’s game against arch-rival Detroit.
“The last two times I’ve gone to center [in Pittsburgh and last night against Los Angeles], it seems like we’ve had a little more balance,” Kane said after practice. “We’ve had some good periods and good pressure in their end. I guess maybe they wanted to start out that way and see where it goes.”
Head Coach Joel Quenneville told the media after practice that the move will give Kane a chance to have the puck more often and give him a chance to make plays. Kane played the first two months of this season as the second-line pivot, recording 7 goals and 15 assists before moving back to wing on Dec. 2 against the New York Islanders.
“He seems to have the puck a little bit more [at center],” said Quenneville. “I think we’ll have more threats on both lines with him in the middle."
|After a six-game absence, Daniel Carcillo will play Friday against Detroit. |
Kane was also excited at the prospect of playing between Sharp and Stalberg, who have both been putting up points in bunches recently.
“I’m excited, it’s always fun to play with new linemates and new combinations,” Kane said. “Sharpy’s been playing great and so has Stalberg, so I’m playing with two really confident guys.”
Carcillo to return: Another return to the lineup will be forward Daniel Carcillo, who will play Friday after missing six games with an injury. The tenacious winger has been skating with the team for the past several days, but said he would not return to action until he was 100 percent ready to play his style of game.
“I wouldn’t come back if I didn’t feel that way because that’s what I need to be effective,” he said.
News and notes: Joel Quenneville said that Marcus Kruger’s health has been improving, but he will miss Friday’s game against the Red Wings. He has not yet returned to skating… Corey Crawford will get the start in net Friday, his fourth straight starting assignment… The Blackhawks and their rivals from Detroit have not faced off in nearly nine months, but that absence will soon be erased; the two teams will play each other three times in the next 16 days.