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Practice Notes: Thursday, Dec. 20

by Adam Kempenaar / Chicago Blackhawks

Newly-recalled defenseman Cam Barker will be paired with James Wisniewski on the blue line. "He's fit and has played in all situations down there [in Rockford]," coach Denis Savard said. "He's played a lot of minutes. We know eventually that he's going to be in the NHL for a long time. Right now he's playing with lots of confidence and he's going to get a great opportunity to play now."

Look for Barker to get time on one of the power play units. Barker's arrival means Dustin Byfuglien may return to wing on the top line after playing his natural position of defense Wednesday. Byfuglien skated with Martin Havlat and Robert Lang at practice but Savard said he hasn't finalized his lineup for Saturday's game in Ottawa.

"I like [Byfuglien] as a forward, that's just me," Savard said. "I am undecided [for Saturday], but at the same time I am decided in that he's a forward in my book."

Petri Kontiola, who played with Havlat and Lang Wednesday night against Nashville, centered the 4th line with LW Ben Eager and RW Martin Lapointe Thursday but may find himself back at wing on the 1st line.

Line combinations that should stay in tact: Patrick Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and the 3rd line of Tuomo Ruutu, Dave Bolland and Adam Burish. Yanic Perreault, Sergei Samsonov and David Koci will likely be scratches for Saturday.

On defense, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook remain paired together, as do and Brent Sopel and Andrei Zyuzin. Sopel was rested from practice Thursday with a bruise but will be fine for Saturday.

Center Jake Dowell (broken foot) skated before practice Thursday and is 10-14 days away from returning to action ... The Hawks are targeting Dec. 30 vs. the Kings for Rene Bourque's return from a broken thumb.

Nikolai Khabibulin will start Saturday in Ottawa and Savard will decide Sunday's starting goaltender at home against Edmonton following the game.

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