It’s been a tumultuous season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, but one of the stabilizing forces has been Patrick Sharp. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks will need to finish most of – if not all – of their playoff run without the All-Star sniper.
Tracey Myers reports Joel Quenneville said that the team hopes to have Sharp back by the end of the regular season, indicating that he should miss at least two or three weeks with a left knee injury. Obviously, their tough road ahead just got that much bumpier, especially since the team was already dealing with the indefinite absence of two-way center Dave Bolland.
He’s been a very good goal scorer for years, but Sharp really broke through this season. His 34 goals is the second best of his career, while he already earned a career high of 68 points. Sharp not only earned a spot in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, he actually won the game’s MVP.
While it’s nutty to expect him to fill the void, the Blackhawks’ mission to bring Marcus Kruger to the NHL from Sweden seems that much more important with Sharp and Bolland unavailable for the near future. Myers provides this quick write-up regarding Kruger, with comments from Quenneville.
Kruger, the Blackhawks’ fifth-round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, could especially help fill the void left by Dave Bolland, who has shown little progress from his concussion.
Kruger had six goals and 29 assists in 52 games in Sweden this past season.
“He’s a kid that’s a responsible player with good hockey sense as well as instincts,” said Quenneville, who added general manager Stan Bowman was working on Kruger getting here. “It’s an opportunity for us to assess him quickly and see how he fits right in. We’re missing two important players, he plays center, so we’ll see how that works out. We’ll see what kind of an adjustment there is.”
It sounds like Quenneville’s two to three week prognosis is based at least a bit on wishful thinking, so we’ll keep you updated regarding Sharp’s progress as time goes on. The Blackhawks will miss him greatly, but don’t have any breathing room to deal with growing pains. Instead, they must just persevere without their leading goal scorer and hope he makes it back for the playoffs. If they can even make the playoffs themselves, that is.