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Patrick Sharp not sweating spot in lineup after return

Other than when it actually happens, one of the biggest questions around Patrick Sharp’s impending return to the Blackhawks lineup is where he’ll play. The lineup has had an unusual amount of stability, and with that has come success and the production expected from the Hawks.

Sharp, however, probably isn’t losing much sleep about which line he’ll play on when he gets back from the lower-body injury he suffered Nov. 4 in Montreal.

“I just get ready to play and play where I’m told,” Sharp said.

That will likely be sometime next week as he gets closer to game shape. And Sharp is looking at the final stretch of his recovery as a positive.

“Every day I get a little bit better and that’s what’s fun about playing hockey, is coming to the rink and working hard and seeing the improvements,” Sharp said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

BE CAREFUL

One of the strange and unfortunate stories of the NHL season has been the prevalence of mumps. The latest diagnosis was Minnesota’s Ryan Suter on Thursday.

“I guess you could catch it going anywhere – to a store or wherever. It’s hard to say,” Ben Smith said. “It’s been weird how it’s kind of spread around our league but, knock on wood, we’ve been OK and hopefully those guys that are not feeling well are getting better and we can kind of stop the epidemic, if you could call it that.”

Smith didn’t know how he could take extra precautions to avoid getting the mumps.

“Just kind of the time of the year where washing hands is important in trying to stay healthy,” Smith said. “Hopefully, if you do that you can avoid the flu or whatever’s around.”