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SAN JOSE -- Dan Boyle will return to the Sharks' lineup tonight against Chicago after missing Wednesdays game against Calgary with the flu.
Boyle didnt skate at Thursdays practice, either, but took part in the Sharks morning skate at HP Pavilion on Friday as the team gets set to host the Blackhawks, who have lost six straight (0-5-1).
Listening to coach Todd McLellan, it doesnt appear that Boyle will play anything less than hes used to.
"When he came in this morning he was pretty spry and looked pretty good, McLellan said. I think hes one guy that can play without having skated for a couple days and fit right in. Hes kind of wired that way and doesnt need a lot of practice time. If hes feeling good, hell play.
CSNChicago.com: Blackhawks news video
Boyles return is important for a couple of reasons, other than the fact hes been arguably the teams best defenseman for the last month. The Sharks defense looked lost at times during a mistake-filled 4-3 loss to Calgary on Wednesday, as McLellan mixed and matched his defense pairs against the Flames with minimal success.
Furthermore, Boyle and partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic figure to see a lot of the Blackhawks top line. On Jan. 15 in Chicago, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg combined for two goals, three assists and a whopping 17 shots on goal in a 4-3 Chicago win.
That line has since been split up, but it will be interesting to see if head coach Joel Quenneville at least puts Toews and Kane back together in time for tonights matchup.
I remember that they were much better than we were, said Boyle of that dominant performance by Chicago. Im not sure whos going to playing against them, but whoever does needs to elevate their play. They are one of the top lines in the league, not only on their team, and they were significantly better last game than ours was.
As for Chicagos six-game losing streak, that doesnt enter into Boyles mind.
No, it doesnt matter if a team comes in hot or not. That can change at any moment, and they are too good of a team to keep losing games, he said.
Boyle joked after the morning skate that he watched Wednesdays game with his dad, and it wasnt a very enjoyable experience.
It was tough to watch. Its always tough to watch regardless, but especially when I think the first 15 minutes were pretty ugly.