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Shaw returns for Blackhawks against Panthers

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- There was some good news on the injury front for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday morning.

Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell both participated in the team's optional morning skate prior to facing the Florida Panthers on Sunday night. Shaw will play against the Panthers, but Bickell still has a ways to go in his recovery from a lower-body injury.

"First time on the ice there today [for Bickell]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was good to see him out there but we'll get a better indication, I guess, [when he's] out there with everybody."

When healthy, Bickell and Shaw form two-thirds of what the Blackhawks hope will become a potent third line like they had last season, when they combined with former Chicago forward Viktor Stalberg for all of the regular season and much of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Bickell will miss his 10th game in a row, but Shaw returns after sitting out two straight. He sustained a big hit along the boards late in a 4-3 loss against the Dallas Stars last week, but didn't confirm that was the reason for his absence the past two games.

"I don't know, [it was] just aggravating pain through the upper body," Shaw said. "They figured they'd just give me a few nights off with this busy schedule coming up."

After the game against Florida, the Blackhawks have two back-to-back sets this week. Both start with road games followed by home contests.

The Panthers didn't hold a morning skate after beating the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. Tim Thomas picked up the victory by making 22 saves and former Blackhawks forward Jimmy Hayes scored his second goal in as many games.

Hayes' goal was assisted by former Blackhawks defenseman prospect Dylan Olsen, who along with Hayes was traded to the Panthers Nov. 14 in order for Chicago to reacquire forward Kris Versteeg.

Hayes, who played just two games for the Blackhawks this season after coming into the new campaign hoping to replace Stalberg, has three goals and four points in 12 games since the trade. Olsen, who was blocked on defense by veterans, has a goal and three assists in six games for Florida.

"It's an opportunity [for Hayes]," Quenneville said. "He probably gets more quality, more quantity [of] ice time there and it's a good chance to show he can play regularly in the League."

As for Olsen, Quenneville said the Blackhawks dealt from a position of strength when including him in the trade. Chicago kept eight defensemen before Michael Kostka got hurt and still has defense prospects waiting in the wings throughout the system.

"We've got eight right now and still some guys [in the minors] progressing, as well," he said. "For a while there, the depth on our back end was limited. Now we feel like it's improved quite a bit. [Olsen] gets a great chance there and I'm sure he'll develop and he'll play."

Corey Crawford will start in net for Chicago and the Panthers haven't announced their starter yet.

Here is how the Panthers and Blackhawks might line up Sunday night:


Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Jesse Winchester - Shawn Matthias - Jimmy Hayes

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Erik Gudbranson - Dylan Olsen

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Scratched: Krys Barch, Mike Mottau, Scott Gomez

Injured: Ed Jovanovski (lower body)


Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Brandon Saad - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane

Kris Versteeg - Andrew Shaw - Jeremy Morin

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

Injured: Bryan Bickell (lower body), Nikolai Khabibulin (lower body)

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