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Blackhawks Mon Nov 10 2014

Sharp Injury Creating Opportunities for Young Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks With Patrick Sharp now sidelined for three to four weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered last week against the Montreal Canadiens, the Hawks will look to Rockford for some much-needed relief, especially with the team's recent scoring drought.

Despite a 5-2 win Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center, the Hawks recently have struggled at home, including amassing only two goals in three of the team's previous home contests. The shots on goal were there, but the netminders facing the Hawks played great despite limited second-chance shots. It's not as bad as the Bears' scoring chances, but it was looking a little concerning for a team so loaded with talent.

Sharp led the team last season in points scored with 78 points off of 34 goals and 44 assists; this season, third on the team thus far in points (13 games played) with nine points off of three goals and six assists. For a guy who was rumored to be on his way out of town during the offseason now finds himself on the sidelines for an extended period with Joel Quenneville scratching his head and youth in Rockford itching for an opportunity.

Peter Regin is the first to get the call and so far has played well -- meaning he hasn't stunk up the place. In his two games with the team, Regin has one assist (coming in Sunday night's win from a Brent Seabrook goal) and one shot on goal while playing on the fourth line with Brad Richards and Jeremy Morin.

The initial thought amongst the Hawks' faithful was whether or not Teuvo Teravainen would get the call, but, for now, he remains in the AHL with his seven points (one goal, six assists) after 11 games played. Regin was playing even better for Rockford after 11 games played with 10 points (four goals, six assists). Not to mention, Regin had some playing time with the Hawks last season, logging 17 games and scoring four points off of two goals and two assists.

Joakim Nordstrom is another player who could get the call up from Rockford. The team captain leads his squad in penalty minutes with 17, but his five goals are second only to Mark McNeill's (nine), another player who could get a shot in Sharp's place.

Phillip Danault's two-way specialty is another possibility for Quenneville, not to mention his ability to kill off the penalty. His speed is there and his mental makeup of knowing where the puck is most times has helped the IceHogs with his two goals and seven assists, but he'll probably continue his grooming process in the minors.

What's key for the Hawks during this time frame is finding a balance in replacing Sharp with the upcoming "Circus Road Trip," which begins next Thursday in Calgary. The Hawks have fared well in recent years on the trip, including a 6-1-0 record last season.

If Regin can find success in setting up Morin, he'll likely keep the spot until Sharp returns. It's unlikely fourth-line roulette will be the game Quenneville plays while the team hits the road, but with the Sharp injury mixed with any fatigue from veteran players over the nine-day stretch, it could produce ice time for a group of young players looking to contribute.

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