Kostka on the verge of returning for Blackhawks

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DALLAS — While Joel Quenneville does everything he can to keep the Blackhawks fresh during this 13-day road trip, holding just one off-day practice and keeping morning skates short and sweet, Michael Kostka has been spending extra time on the ice. Both in Chicago and since rejoining the team in Edmonton, the defenseman has been pushing himself to get back into game shape as quickly as possible.

And he’s getting close.

“I feel good,” Kostka said. “It’s been good to get back, join up with the team again. It’s a little lonely skating by yourself. Me and [Michael Handzus] were kind of holding the fort back down in Chicago, but I feel good.”

Kostka was injured when he was struck in the foot/ankle area with a puck during the morning skate in Florida on Oct. 22. He had just scored his first goal of the season in the previous game, against his former Toronto teammates, in just his second game.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kostka is “real close” to returning to the lineup, but with eight healthy defensemen now, he’ll still have to work his way back into the sixth-man rotation with Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank.

“We obviously have a ton of depth here on D, so I’ll just be ready when my name is called,” Kostka said. “I know the other seven guys are very able and willing to do the job, as well. … That’s kind of the nature of the beast. I’ve been used to being on the cusp of being right there a lot. You do your best to stay focused and be prepared when for when your name is called.”

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