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Campbell back on the ice with Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- The tablets that Brian Campbell takes to help his broken collarbone and rib heal are filled with calcium and taste like chalk.
"Supposedly they work," said Campbell, who won't play in Friday's Game 1 against Nashville, but participated in team drills during Wednesday's practice for the first time since being injured on March 14. "If they don't, I'm going to be pretty mad."
That's because the tablets, called "Calcifood," aren't much for taste connoisseurs.
"They are terrible," Campbell laughed. "They're just dry stuff in your mouth. You chew on them and then drink whatever you can as quickly as possible … so you don't have to taste them."
They have to taste better than getting injured against Washington, when Capitals star Alex Ovechkin pushed Campbell from behind and drove him into the boards headfirst. Ovechkin got a two-game suspension, while Campbell missed the rest of the regular season with a diagnosis of up to eight weeks away from hockey.

"I practiced today and pretty much kept up with 'em. I'm just going to keep skating. I haven't ruled out anything but Game One. That's all I will rule out now and that's how I'll move forward. The biggest thing is getting my legs ready for when I do get back."
-- Brian Campbell

Just 4-1/2 weeks out from the injury, Campbell said he wouldn't classify his rehabilitation as ahead of schedule. Yet, he also wouldn't rule out playing in the Nashville series at some point.
"I practiced today and pretty much kept up with 'em," Campbell said. "I'm just going to keep skating. I haven't ruled out anything but Game 1. That's all I will rule out now and that's how I'll move forward. The biggest thing is getting my legs ready for when I do get back."
Campbell meets with his doctor once a week and has yet to have this week's check-up.
Since Campbell went out, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has shuffled his defensive pairings to compensate. He moved forward Dustin Byfuglien back to his old position on the blue line and paired him with Duncan Keith. He then paired Brent Seabrook with Niklas Hjalmarsson.
The experiment worked, but Quenneville would love to get "Soupy" Campbell back in the rotation for the playoffs. Campbell scored 7 goals to go with 31 assists in 68 games and brings a strong offensive presence on the blue line.
"He's a great asset and you can use him in a lot of ways," Quenneville said. "Him and (Hjalmarsson) was a real nice pair for us. (With Campbell) you get his speed on the back end. You get puck possession. You get a threat off the rush or off the point. He enhances our overall puck possession and speed game."
Asked if Campbell might return in the Nashville series, Quenneville took a wait-and-see approach.
"We'll see how it progresses," he said. "Earlier on, when he was first injured, I don't think it was on the radar. But we'll play it by ear."
One thing is certain. Campbell will be at all the games -- including those in Tennessee.
"If they don't take me I'll fly myself," he said. "I'm not missing it."
Boss Hoss -- Marian Hossa welcomes Chicago's heightened expectations for this postseason.
After going to the Cup Final in consecutive years with Pittsburgh in 2008 and last season with Detroit, Hossa is seen as a key part of the Hawks' bid to end a 49-year Stanley Cup drought. In the off-season, Hossa and Tomas Kopecky both came over from Detroit along with former New Jersey center John Madden, who won two Cups with the Devils.
"We've got a couple guys with experience and I'm one of them," Hossa said. "I know what the expectations are. The expectations are high and I'm looking forward to it. Obviously we are the favorite in this round and we know what we have to do to be successful."
Pleading the fourth -- Quenneville said that for the time being he doesn't plan on changing the fourth line that was productive over the last several games.
Center Colin Fraser (5 goals in his last four games) and wingers Ben Eager and Kopecky will likely remain together for at least Game 1.  Quenneville also is pleased with recent AHL call-up Bryan Bickell, who played on a line with Patrick Kane and center Dave Bolland in the regular-season finale against Detroit.
Bickell may now see time in the Playoffs.
"He's a part of our group," Quenneville said. "We can use him when we need him. (Whenever) he gets an opportunity, he really looks like he belongs up here."
Dirty talk -- Kris Versteeg is one of the Hawks' biggest cut-ups, and he was in top form on Wednesday.
His locker stall next to Hossa was blocked by a crush of reporters, so he joined the fray. His questions got drowned out by other reporters until he finally asked: "What's your favorite town in Slovakia?"
Hossa smiled.
"We'll have to take you there, Buddy," he said.
Versteeg also didn't hold back when asked about Patrick Kane's new playoff mullet.
"He's a pretty disgusting looking human being to start off, and then he goes with the 'Joe Dirt' mullet," Versteeg said. "It goes back to his Kindergarten days. I'm sure he had those haircuts."
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