NEW YORK - Brian Campbell returns to the Blackhawks' lineup tonight against the Rangers, which is good news for Niklas Hjalmarsson, his struggling defense partner.
Hjalmarsson is minus-8 in 11 games without Campbell, who has been sidelined since the last weekend of the preseason with a sprained right knee.
"I always have the same attitude when I play, but it's a bit of a comfort thing having the guy
that you played with for a while and played in big games with," Hjalmarsson said following Monday's morning skate.
"I've been playing OK, but I'm always the toughest critic on myself so obviously I'm not happy with the way I've played so far. The minus is not the best right now, but you just can't focus on that. You just have to stay positive and try to turn it around. I know I can play better."
Having Campbell back can only help settle down the Hawks' all-around defensive game, which has been mostly inconsistent despite Saturday's 3-1 win at Minnesota.
"He certainly can help our team game," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Soupy moving the puck and his speed and quickness - he can help the pace of our game. Him and Hammer seem to work well together. I think it can help both guys getting reunited back there."
With Campbell back it should also allow Quenneville to cut back on the minutes Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are playing. Keith is averaging a league-high 29:09 a game while Seabrook is at 25:51.
"We'd like to get them down to the mid-20s but every game is different," Quenneville said. "I think we can get them down a few minutes as we go along here."
Campbell is hoping to play more than 20 minutes in his first game of the season.
"I'm excited, obviously," Campbell said. "It's been pretty boring the last month. I'm ready to go to try and help out and get the feel for it again."
With Brian Campbell returning, the Hawks now have eight defensemen. Nick Boynton will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Rangers while John Scott skates at wing...
Winger Bryan Bickell will be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row...
It's not a surprise Scott is playing wing since the Rangers will dress heavyweight Derek Boogaard, who was Scott's teammate last season in Minnesota...
Troy Brouwer will skate again with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane after getting a goal and assist at Minnesota with the top line…Marty Turco starts in goal...
Duncan Keith was named the NHL’s third star of the week.