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Hawks ready to rely on makeshift fourth line

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Rather than continuing the shuttle from Rockford to the United Center, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to give it a rest, at least for a day.
After sending forwards Ben Smith and Ryan Potulny back to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, the Hawks didn't recall anybody on Wednesday. That means they will dress eight defensemen for tonight's home game against the struggling New Jersey Devils.
Defensemen Jordan Hendry and John Scott will be plugged in as forwards on the team's fourth line -- which will be centered by forward Fernando Pisani. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville could also decide to keep Hendry and/or Scott on the bench and rotate other forward in with Pisani.
"John's been up there and Jordan has played up front for us in the past," Quenneville said Wednesday following Chicago's morning skate. "That is a line we can be comfortable with at both ends of the rink."
Quenneville said he likes having defensemen in the lineup as forwards occasionally.

"John's been up there and Jordan has played up front for us in the past. That is a line we can be comfortable with at both ends of the rink." -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville

"We can flip forwards and put them more in those roles too," he said. "It gives you a lot of options and flexibility. I've had lineups where we've had more than eight D more than once, and it can work."
Hossa back skating: For the second straight day, Hawks forward Marian Hossa skated with the team, though he's still thought to be at least a week or more away from returning from the upper body injury that's kept him out since injuring himself Oct. 27 against Los Angeles.
Sharp cites confidence: Chicago forward Patrick Sharp is still leading the League with 10 goals scored and is also near the top with 16 points.
Aside from pucks just finding the back of the net, Sharp said his progression as a player should get the most credit for his scorching start to the season.
"I just feel a little more confident out there with the puck and without it," he said. "Every time I'm on the ice, I have good players with me -- so I feel comfortable in that role. I just feel like I've gotten better every year that I've been in the League. Hopefully that will continue."
Signs of life for Devils' PP: New Jersey's power play is just 3-for-41 on the season (7.3 percent) and is ranked worst in the League. Still, Devils coach John MacLean found reason to feel better about it following a 3-0 loss at Vancouver on Monday.
The Devils went 0-for-2 on the power play, but generated better chances.

"I thought it looked good," he said. "We have to stay with it and I'd also like to see more pucks at the net."
New Jersey missed 10 shots in that game, seven of which were by defensemen.
Kane not keen on stitches: Hawks forward Patrick Kane has a cut across the bridge of his nose that's stitched together, courtesy of a high stick by Edmonton defenseman Theo Peckham.
How's it healing?
"They can be a little nasty," Kane said. "I was fooling around with one the other day and it just popped out. Hopefully I can get 'em out sooner rather than later."
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