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Tomas Jurco ready for fresh start with Blackhawks

Forward, traded from Red Wings on Friday, has no points in 16 games this season

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Forward Tomas Jurco is looking for a fresh start with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jurco, who was traded from Detroit Red Wings on Friday for a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, skated at left wing on the third line with center Marcus Kruger and right wing Marian Hossa in practice Saturday and will be in the lineup against the St. Louis Blues at United Center on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

Jurco, 24, had no points and two penalty minutes in 16 games with the Red Wings this season, and 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 159 games in four seasons with Detroit.

"I wasn't progressing in the last year or so, so I think this is a great time to push my game to another level," Jurco said after practice. "It was a number of different reasons in Detroit [why] it didn't work out for me. I wasn't playing much, so that's obviously tough. And when you don't play for a few weeks, and you play a couple of games, it's very tough."

The Red Wings, who selected Jurco with the No. 35 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, wanted him to utilize his size (6-foot-2, 188 pounds) by playing a more physical game. He struggled with the transition after his stickhandling and hand-eye coordination drew the attention of scouts when playing for Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"It's hiding inside me," Jurco said of his ability. "I've got to find it again. [The Blackhawks] play a style of hockey that I like and that I [grew] up playing, so they just need to be patient. We're going to find it somewhere inside."

Chicago will be without defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who is day to day with an upper-body injury. He didn't practice Saturday and left a 6-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday in the first period.

"I think he knows his body and he knows when he can fight through certain things," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Giving him enough time to get back to where he's basically 100 percent is what we want. There's certain things you can fight through, but with him, he can go through anything. Let's make sure at this time of the year that he recovers from this."

Hjalmarsson has missed four regular-season NHL games since 2012-13 and 24 since 2009-10, his first full season with the Blackhawks. He's played in all 124 Stanley Cup Playoff Games since he's been with Chicago.

"He's a warrior," Quenneville said. "He gives you everything you want in a big game like [Sunday]. We certainly missed him in the last game. We haven't been exposed too much to not having [him] out there in important shifts, but it's a good chance for other guys to get critical and important shifts. Hopefully that helps them in their games as well."

The Blackhawks, who have six healthy defensemen on the roster, didn't recall a defenseman from Rockford of the American Hockey League. Trevor van Riemsdyk was paired with Duncan Keith in Hjalmarsson's spot during practice, Michal Kempny played with Brent Seabrook, and Brian Campbell was paired with Michal Rozsival.

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