ST. PAUL, Minn. – Center Brendan Morrison just wants to be ready.
As trying as things have become for him since he was acquired by the Blackhawks before the trade deadline, Morrison seemed content when talking about his role with the team Thursday.
“You never know what can happen,” said Morrison, who played in only his third game in the last 17 against the Minnesota Wild. “You’ve got to stay prepared. I’m putting in the work there with lots of skates. Obviously, games are different than skating, but whenever they need me, I’ll be ready to go.”
With third-line center Dave Bolland hampered by an upper-body injury that the team maintains isn’t serious, Morrison centered Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. It was the third game in a row in which he filled in for an injured player. He previously played for Jamal Mayers (illness) and Marcus Kruger (concussion symptoms).
There are several reasons why things haven’t panned out for Morrison after being acquired from the Calgary Flames. For starters, Morrison still needed time to recover from offseason knee surgery.
Kruger also continued to improve with every game as the second-line center, the position the Hawks envisioned for Morrison.
Morrison will take every chance he gets to play, but, more important, he just wants to support his new team where he can, on or off the ice. Bolland is questionable for Saturday’s game in Detroit, so he might get one more game in before the playoffs.
“It’s an opportunity to get in and try to find your game here heading into the playoffs,” Morrison said. “I’m going to try and do all the little things right as a teammate. As a team going into the playoffs, you want to make sure that you’re all on the same page. We’ve been playing pretty good hockey lately, so that’s a good sign.”
The Hawks were happy to get defenseman Duncan Keith back after he served his five-game suspension for elbowing Vancouver Canucks winger Daniel Sedin in the head March 21.
They went 2-1-2 without him, and the sound defensive play that resulted in a 10-2-2 record in March broke down at times, and they yielded four or more goals in three of those games.
“[Keith] means a lot to our team as far as what he brings and the quantity and quality of the ice time that he gets or he gives us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He plays in all situations and important minutes.”
Rookie Dylan Olsen was a healthy scratch with Keith returning.
In and out
Quenneville said he wants to give every player a chance to play before the postseason, and that includes defenseman Sami Lepisto, who hasn’t played since March 6 because of a left leg injury.
“There’s a good chance he’ll play Saturday,” Quenneville said.
Winger Andrew Brunette (right foot) missed his second consecutive game and didn’t partake in the team’s morning skate. He’s questionable for Saturday.