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At the Rink: Blackhawks at Flames

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com

CALGARY -- Adam Clendening's patience is about to pay off.

The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman will make his NHL debut Thursday against the Calgary Flames with Trevor van Riemsdyk sidelined 3-4 months with a left patella fracture.

"The nerves are OK," Clendening said following the Blackhawks morning skate. "The guys are really comforting. They're just trying to make me feel at ease. It's nice. The smile hasn't gone away. I'm sure it won't for a while.

"I'm just going to take it all in. You only get to do it once, right?"

Clendening has spent the past two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, recording 21 goals and 105 points in 147 games. This season, the 22-year-old has one goal and four points through 16 games before earning the call to join Chicago to start the annual "circus trip," a 10-day spin away from the United Center that will see the Blackhawks play in five Pacific Division cities plus one Central Division stop starting Thursday in Calgary.

It's been a long time coming, Clendening admitted.

"It goes both ways, a double-edged sword," he said. "When you get the call, you're happy and you get to play with probably the two best guys in the world in [Jonathan Toews] and [Patrick Kane], but just waiting your time, it kind of does [stink].

"At the same time, hopefully when you get the call you're ready and you can maybe stay here for a long time."

It's the same goal Flames forward Michael Ferland has.

Ferland, who sustained a concussion in his NHL debut against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 31, will return to the lineup to play just his second career game.

"I've been working hard here the last couple of weeks and I'm just really excited and anxious to get back out there," Ferland said.

The 22-year-old took a high hit from Predators defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the second period of his debut and has missed eight straight. Volchenkov was suspended four games for the illegal check to the head.

"It [stunk], my first game and getting hurt," Ferland said. "I'm a strong believer in everything happens for a reason and I'm just happy I'm still here right now and getting the opportunity I am tonight.

"I'm really anxious to get out there."

Here are the projected lines:

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Kris Versteeg - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Ben Smith - Jeremy Morin

Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Joakim Nordstrom

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Rozsival - Adam Clendening

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: David Rundblad

Injured: Patrick Sharp (knee), Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee), Andrew Shaw (upper body)

FLAMES

Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - Lance Bouma

Johnny Gaudreau - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Paul Byron - Josh Jooris - Michael Ferland

Sven Baertschi - Max Reinhart - Brandon Bollig

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Ladislav Smid - Dennis Wideman

Raphael Diaz - Deryk Engelland

Jonas Hiller

Karri Ramo

Scratched: Brian McGrattan, Devin Setoguchi

Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Joe Colborne (upper body), Matt Stajan (knee), Mason Raymond (shoulder), David Jones (upper body), Kris Russell (lower body)

Status update: Shaw practiced Wednesday but will not dress due to an upper-body injury. Sharp, who has missed the past five games, could start skating in the next couple of days but isn't expected to play on Chicago's road trip according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. … Jones and Russell, who are day-to-day, were ruled out by Calgary coach Bob Hartley.

Who's hot: Kane, who turned 26 on Wednesday, has three goals and six points in the past six games for the Blackhawks. … Granlund, 21, has a goal and three assists in his past two games and eight points in nine games since being recalled from Adirondack of the AHL.

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