Blackhawks

Kruger skates, hopes to be cleared soon

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Kruger skates, hopes to be cleared soon

Marcus Kruger isnt ready to get into a game yet, but hes feeling close to it.

Kruger skated for the third consecutive day on Sunday and is hoping to get cleared for contact soon. The Blackhawks center has not played since he took some big hits against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 26 but said hes felt better with each passing day.

Of course you dont want to miss this many games but Ive tried to be patient, Kruger said. I know its going to get better and better and I hope to be back and playing soon.

Kruger said he took two big hits against Columbus, five days after he suffered a concussion when Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland hit him high. Kruger also suffered a setback last week when he was doing off-ice workouts.

I tried to do some off-ice stuff and I didnt feel as good as I wanted, Kruger said. It was frustrating but the medical team helped me a lot and Ive done everything I can to be back as soon as possible. Today was great.

The Blackhawks have used Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw at second-line center in Krugers absence. Theres no doubt the Swede provided stability there; linemates Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa had lengthy point streaks in December, and a good chunk of that came with Kruger centering them.

We appreciate the consistency in his game, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes useful in a lot of ways. His production may not be high end but his effectiveness is what you. He can make and see plays as well.

Get caught up with your latest Blackhawks news ahead of 2018 NHL Draft

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AP

Get caught up with your latest Blackhawks news ahead of 2018 NHL Draft

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Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule: