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Kane in Blackhawks' lineup despite battling illness

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Injury updates were the theme of the day at the United Center, where both the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings prepared for Wednesday's night's game.

The Kings will be without second-line forward Simon Gagne, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday morning with an upper body injury believed to be a concussion. The Hawks will be missing rookie center Marcus Kruger (upper body) and forward Daniel Carcillo (upper body), whom they hope will return on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Chicago will have star forward Patrick Kane in uniform against the Kings, though he's fighting off a case of strep throat which hampered his play in Monday's 4-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kane missed Tuesday's practice, but said the rest he got -- plus some antibiotic medication -- helped him feel much better on Wednesday.

"It's never fun to miss a day at the rink, especially when you just had four off for Christmas," said Kane, who started feeling ill on Christmas Eve and continued to get worse. "It's good to be back today. It was more strep throat, so it wasn't very fun. But I think the worst is over now. I just have to try and get through it tonight, I guess."

The Hawks are in the midst of a lengthy homestand and thus far have taken advantage of it. They've won five in a row at the United Center and are 6-0-1 in this building in the month of December - with the game against the Kings on Wednesday and the Red Wings here on Friday.

"You never want to have slumps and ups and downs, especially when we've got a lot of home games here coming up," Kane said. "You definitely want to separate yourself from the pack and take advantage of these, because we know in February we're going to be playing a lot on the road."

Chicago defenseman Steve Montador also missed Tuesday's practice for what Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called a "maintenance day," and also sat out Wednesday's morning skate. Montador, however, will play against the Kings on Wednesday night.

As for Kruger, it's more of a precautionary action after several hard hits he took against Columbus on Monday may have caused the concussion symptoms he incurred last week in Pittsburgh to flare up again.

"He played the other night and he's close," Quenneville said. "I don't know if it was a defining hit (by Columbus that did it). He's feeling alright today."

Here are the projected lineups for the Blackhawks and Kings:

Kyle Clifford - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Andrei Loktionov - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Kevin Westgarth

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier

Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brandon Pirri - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Viktor Stalberg
Daniel Carcillo - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sean O'Donnell - Steve Montador

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

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