by Scott King
Both Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper-body) and Johnny Oduya (lower-body) participated in the Blackhawks’ optional practice Monday morning. The Swedish defensemen were a regular pairing during the 2013-2015 seasons.
Hjalmarsson has been out since exiting the Hawks’ February 23rd contest vs. the Arizona Coyotes, and Oduya only played in 37 games with the Dallas Stars this season before returning to Chicago.
Following practice, Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said of the Swedes “Likely, good chance they could play on Thursday.”
Hjalmarsson said he’s ready to go Thursday vs. the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center, but he’ll just wait for Q to make the final decision.
“Thought I would be a little more out of shape,” Hjalmarsson said. “But I felt decent. It’s just a good feeling to be back and practicing with the guys.
“I’m ready to get back in the mix, hopefully. Just can’t wait to get back. It’s never a good feeling to watch the games. Can’t wait to get back out there.
It was the first time Hjalmarsson spoke with the media since his old D partner returned.
“Great feeling obviously,” Hjalmarsson said. “I think the guys who played with him here, last time he was here, all got super excited. We know what kind of guy he is and we know what type of game he brings to the team, and leadership. We all got really happy about it. We definitely have a great D core now.”
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