Encouraging Signs from Mironov, Karpovtsev at Hawks' Practice

Article excerpt

Byline: Lindsey Willhite Daily Herald Sports Writer

Boris Mironov and Alexander Karpovtsev are back just in time to deal with St. Louis' physical forwards.

Assuming Wednesday's practice served as a proper barometer, the Blackhawks will have their full complement of defensemen ready for Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals tonight at the Savvis Center.

Mironov and Karpovtsev stayed on the ice throughout Wednesday's 60-minute session. It was Mironov's first appearance at practice in two weeks, though he spent a portion of it skating alone to test his injured groin.

"He's been on the ice just about every day for the last while," said Hawks coach Brian Sutter. "You guys just haven't seen him, that's all.

"Obviously if he was on the ice today, there's a (darn) good chance he'll play tomorrow."

Mironov missed 15 of the Hawks' final 16 regular-season games while he tended to a dislocated shoulder and his injured groin. His plus-15 rating is the Hawks' best among defensemen.

"I'm preparing myself for tomorrow," Mironov said. "It's been very hard (rehabilitating). You have to be more careful before going on the ice. I've just been working hard, doing treatments twice a day."

Karpovtsev, whose plus-10 rating is No. 2 among Hawks defensemen, sat out the last seven games with a strained knee. He was less forthcoming than Mironov about his injury's progress.

"Right now, it's fine," Karpovtsev said while joking that he was being tortured to reveal his entire medical history. "Everything's fine."

If Mironov and Karpovtsev can play, Sutter will have to sit a defenseman or two who have been playing of late.

Chris McAlpine and late-season acquisition Joe Reekie appear to be the prime candidates.

"You don't want easy decisions," Sutter said.

Bell doesn't go: Rookie left winger Mark Bell missed practice for a reason Brian Sutter was reluctant to admit.

"Yeah, he wasn't out there today," Sutter said.

According to a teammate, Bell simply missed practice because he was under the weather.

"I expect them all to play tomorrow," Sutter said.

Homecoming for Sutter: Brian Sutter will be facing the team with which he spent his entire 12-year playing career and his first four years as a head coach. …