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Keith returns, but Blackhawks to alter lineup

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Duncan Keith will return to the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center, but another lineup change is coming.

"We might have seven defensemen [playing]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quennevillle told reporters two hours before puck drop against the Winnipeg Jets.

Keith missed Chicago's last game while sick and Chicago lost 2-1 against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center and also missed practice Saturday. Getting him back should help the Blackhawks' puck possession, but Quenneville's news that one of the forwards will likely sit in favor of a defensemen raised a few eyebrows.

Quenneville said the move wasn't because of an "ailment," which means it's probably a benching. He didn't say which forward would watch as a healthy scratch and didn't say which defenseman would play up front.

In the past it's been Sheldon Brookbank who plays forward when called upon, usually shifting at right wing on the third line. If that holds true, either Michael Kostka or Michal Rozsival will play the right point on the third defense pairing next to Nick Leddy.

The move comes on the heels of Chicago (32-9-12) earning one point in a mid-week back-to-back set at the Detroit Red Wings and Wild this past Wednesday and Thursday. Quenneville wasn't happy with his team's play on the offensive end of the ice against the Wild, who out-skated the Blackhawks.

This will be the Blackhawks' last home game until March 1, when they play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the last game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Soldier Field.

"We had a real good homestand and a very ordinary, at best, road trip," Quenneville said. "So, let's take care of business at home, because we're not going to be here for an extended amount of time."

Winnipeg (24-24-5) is coming off a 5-4 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Winnipeg. The Jets are 5-1-0 since Jan. 12, when Paul Maurice took over as coach.

Maurice, however, wasn't thrilled with the Jets' puck possession in recent road games against the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, which they split.

"We're going to have to control the puck more than we did in those two games," Maurice said. "Simplicity is key for us. At the end of the day, what's important for us is no self-inflicted wounds against a team that's going to get their own chances on their own skill level."

Here are the projected lineups for the Jets and Blackhawks:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Michael Frolik

Evander Kane - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Devin Setoguchi - Olli Jokinen - Dustin Byfuglien

Chris Thorburn - Eric O'Dell - Anthony Peluso

Zach Bogosian - Tobias Enstrom

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Adam Pardy - Keaton Ellerby

Al Montoya

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: James Wright, Zach Redmond, Eric Tangradi

Injured: Jim Slater (lower body), Paul Postma (lower body), Matt Halischuk (upper body), Grant Clitsome (upper body)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Andrew Shaw - Patrick Kane

Michael Kostka - Michal Handzus - Kris Versteeg

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Nick Leddy - Sheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Michal Rozsival, Bryan Bickell

Injured: Nikolai Khabibulin (rotator cuff surgery)

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