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Upper body injury sidelines Sharp 3 to 4 weeks

by Elise Butler / Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp will miss three to four weeks with an upper body injury, Head Coach Joel Quenneville said at Monday’s practice. Sharp was injured in the first period of Sunday night’s loss to the Detroit Red Wings, shortly after scoring his 20th goal of the season.

“He certainly has had a good first half for us,” said Quenneville.

Sharp is third on the team in points (20G, 20A) through 42 games, standing behind Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. His five game-winning goals lead the team and his +18 rating trails only Hossa. He is one of just seven players in the NHL to have scored 20 goals this season.

But Quenneville wants to take the Blackhawks’ attention away from just the offensive, preaching a balanced game and strong defense that will then provide the opportunities for offense.

“I just think that [style of play] complements what we’re looking for and what we’re trying to reinforce here,” he said. “We’ve got to check better, pay attention to detail and play tighter, and for that you might get more offense.”

He hopes that the Sharp injury will force the team to focus and strengthen their mental game.

“Across the board, we’re looking to make sure we’re playing the perfect team game and defense-first attack and defense-first mentality is what we need,” he said.

Sharp was placed on Injured Reserve Monday and the team announced they had recalled forward Ben Smith from the Rockford IceHogs (AHL). Smith, 23, has recorded one goal in seven regular-season games with Chicago this season. Additionally, the Avon, Connecticut, native shares the Rockford team lead with five power-play goals and ranks second on the club with 0.95 points-per-game in 19 AHL tilts. Originally selected by the Blackhawks in the sixth round (169th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Smith has registered 10 goals, eight assists and four penalty minutes this year for the IceHogs.

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