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Hawks hope to return to full health after holiday

by Brian Hedger /
CHICAGO -- Slowly but surely, the Chicago Blackhawks are getting their injured players back on the ice.
The only one who didn't skate during Tuesday's practice was forward Patrick Kane, who seemed to aggravate his lower-body injury this past weekend during a practice. Otherwise, forwards Marian Hossa (lower body) and Viktor Stalberg (upper body) both went through a full practice session -- which was held in front of fans at Johnny's Ice House West.
Hossa also skated for about 30 minutes after the regular practice session concluded, but neither he nor Kane will play on Wednesday night at home against the Nashville Predators. Stalberg might return, but Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will make the final call after Wednesday's morning skate.
"We're going to shoot for after Christmas with Hossa," Quenneville said. "He looked good out there today. He's close."
As for Kane?
"I still think he's able to do a lot off the ice," Quenneville said. "I think his conditioning is still going to be right for game conditions. It's just a matter (of) … until he feels good on the ice. He's not too far away either."
Despite Kane twice appearing to have setbacks in his recovery, Quenneville said he didn't think Kane got back on the ice for practices too early with what's believed to be an ankle injury.
"It's just part of it," Quenneville said.
Stalberg, who's missed two games since getting smashed head-first into the corner glass against Colorado last week, said he's ready to play if it were up to him.
"It was tough watching two games from the stands," said Stalberg, who has 6 goals and 13 points in 32 games played. "I had a similar thing happen in Toronto last year. I'm just happy it wasn't worse than it was. It's a long year, so it's not the end of the world."
Chicago also just got forward Fernando Pisani back into the lineup last Friday against the Detroit Red Wings. He'd missed eight games with an upper-body injury incurred on the road Nov. 26 against the Anaheim Ducks.
Once Hossa and Kane return, the feeling inside the Hawks' locker room is that they could be better off in the long run in ways other than just having more talent on the ice.
"It's kind of tough to say injuries are good for any team, but battling through adversity and having other guys step up and fill those roles while key players are out can only help us down the stretch," said forward Patrick Sharp, who leads Chicago with 18 goals and 34 points. "Once we get healthy -- and knock on wood, if we can get healthy -- we'll be a much better team for it."

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