Patrick Sharpgot plenty of extra time to recover form a torn ACL in his right knee due to the lockout. Carcillo underwent surgery in January 2012. "Everything feels good," he said. "It's been a long year and I'm definitely excited to get started. Getting back into game shape now is my big concern -- the stops, the starts, coming off the turns and that sort of thing." Carcillo, like all players, will only get a week of training camp with no exhibition games before the season starts. Consequently, he's likely to be one of the many players that's rusty at the start of the season.
Duncan Keithwill have to adjust quickly after opting not to sign in Europe or elsewhere during the lockout. "It's going to be tough that there's no preseason games," Sharp said. "(It's) whoever can adjust the quickest and get off to a great start ... But once you get into the swing of things it's business as usual." Sharp is usually a reliable scorer, but he's one of the players should should feel a tad uncomfortable with going into the season. He should adjust quickly, but we wouldn't be surprised if he gets off to a cold start.
Corey Crawfordthinks it's important for the Blackhawks to run as many skates as possible before the lockout officially ends and training camp begins. "The one thing that sticks out in my mind about having success in a 48-game season is getting off to a good start," Keith said. "That goes back to making sure we're ready to play that first game. That's going to start in practice and training camp right away. It's looking for perfection at practice and bringing it over to a game." Chicago got off to a great start last season, but they also suffered a prolonged losing streak. Consistency will be important in the shortened season and that's one aspect they'll have to focus on as the campaign progresses.
Bryan Bickelldoesn't feel any extra pressure going into the shortened season. "Pressure? You're talking about that already," Crawford said. "No, man, this is fun. This is fun what we do. I'm excited. We've got a great team, so I'm looking forward to what's coming up." Unless the Blackhawks get another goaltender, Crawford will get another shot at leading the Blackhawks. He shouldn't be regarded as a safe bet to bounce back after his horrendous sophomore season and it wouldn't be shocking if Ray Emery ends up stealing the starting job.
Jonathan Toewsasserted himself nicely for Czech team Orlo Znojmo. Bickell scored nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 28 games. He's generally only intriguing in extremely deep fantasy leagues, although he's obviously more interesting if he can generate at the 37-point level (as in 2010-11) than last season's 24 points.
With the lockout about to end, Toews isn't convinced that it really had to go on this long. ``It's just more of a relief," said Toews. "We're excited to get back in front of our fans and just be together on a daily basis. But the realistic thing that sets in is: Did it really have to go this far? Did we really have to miss over three months? It's unfortunate. We know we've got a long road ahead of us to try and build this game back and earn the respect from the fans again." The good news is that the two sides were still able to salvage the season, so they won't have to recover from the stigma of yet another lost campaign. The shortened season should be exciting, with even game being critical to a team's chances of making the playoffs.