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Blackhawks' Morin, Smith making names known

by Adam Vingan

WASHINGTON -- As Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain out of the lineup while nursing injuries, the team has been buoyed by the recent play of its younger role players.

Forward Jeremy Morin, recalled from the American Hockey League when Kane was placed on long-term injured reserve March 21 after suffering an apparent knee injury two days earlier, has scored three goals in as many games.

Forward Ben Smith has also been contributing offensively with three goals in his past four games, all of which the Blackhawks have won.

In doing so, Morin and Smith have thrust themselves into the lineup conversation when the Blackhawks open the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week.

"Well obviously the goal is play in [the] playoffs," Morin said. "I can't control that. All I can do is if I'm in the lineup, just make the most of it. I'm trying to finish off the season the right way and just keep contributing."

Kane and Toews, who has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury, are expected to return for Chicago's first postseason game against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. Coach Joel Quenneville said Friday that both skated Thursday, adding that they "skated very well [and] looked good."

The Blackhawks will be bolstered by the respective returns of Kane and Toews. Those that have filled in for Chicago's star forwards will do whatever they can to complement them.

"We need them," Smith said of Kane and Toews. "That's a big thing. It's nice for some guys to get a little more confident playing in different situations. That will only be a help moving forward as they come back.

"Maybe our roles will be a little more pushed back, but that's the sport. We need those guys back to be our best as a team. Hopefully us bottom-six guys will be playing with a bit more confidence."

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Washington Capitals for their game Friday at Verizon Center:


Patrick SharpAndrew ShawMarian Hossa

Kris VersteegMichal HandzusBrandon Saad

Bryan BickellBen SmithJeremy Morin

Brandon BolligMarcus KrugerJoakim Nordstrom

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Nick LeddySheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Matt Carey, Peter Regin, Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad

Injured: Patrick Kane (knee), Jonathan Toews (upper body), Nikolai Khabibulin (shoulder)


Mikhail GrabovskiNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Dustin PennerMarcus JohanssonTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrJoel Ward

Evgeny KuznetsovJay BeagleTom Wilson

Karl AlznerJohn Carlson

Dmitry OrlovTyson Strachan

Julien BrouilletteConnor Carrick

Scratched: Aaron Volpatti, John Erskine

Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Mike Green (upper body), Jack Hillen (upper body), Patrick Wey (upper body)

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