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updated: 12/8/2013 9:32 PM

Kruger weighs in on Blackhawks' penalty-kill woes

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Marcus Kruger has been the Blackhawks' best penalty killer over the past two seasons, and Sunday he weighed in on a problem that continues to be a sore spot in an otherwise stellar season.

The Hawks started the action Sunday still ranked 29th in the NHL in penalty killing.

"I thought there for a while (we had it figured out) and then we've been struggling again," Kruger said. "We have to figure it out and look forward. That's what is most important now. I think everyone knows what we want to do out there, but we need to get some confidence."

The Hawks just aren't executing as well as they were last year when they allowed only 18 power-play goals in 48 games. They had surrendered 24 in their first 31 games this season.

"We have pretty much the same system as last year," said Kruger, who was paired with Michael Frolik in 2013 when the Hawks ranked third in the league. "We need to execute better. It's up to us here in the locker room to do a better job."

It starts with the inability to block shots like they were doing a year ago.

"We haven't been good enough in that area," Kruger said. "We've been talking about it and everyone knows it, but we still can't seem to get it to work. We've been looking at what we did last year and why it worked, and it seems like we had a little more confidence out there. We seem to be on our heels a little more now and don't want to get scored on."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville knows the penalty kill has been a big problem that needs to get fixed.

"It's obviously a concern," he said. "When you're not having success there's maybe a little bit of hesitation. When you're going good and have that confidence, it seems to be seamless. You read and go, go, go. We'd like to have a little more pressure and hopefully that can take away the hesitation."

Shaw returns:

Andrew Shaw was itching to get back in the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury.

He returned Sunday against Florida at the United Center.

"I'm pretty excited and have tons of energy," Shaw said. "I felt great on the ice."

Shaw was hurt late in the Dallas game last Tuesday when he was crunched into the end boards by defenseman Brenden Dillon.

"It was just aggravating pain throughout my body," Shaw said.

The Hawks had lost three games in a row and could have used Shaw's energy in 2 of those losses.

"I think we need to get out there and create our own energy and just feed off one another," Shaw said. "Go out there and compete and work for each other."

Familiar faces:

Winger Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen returned to the UC for the first time since they were traded to Florida for Kris Versteeg. Both Hayes and Olsen are getting a chance to play for the Panthers.

"It's an opportunity (for Hayes)," Joel Quenneville said. "He probably gets more quality and more quantity ice time there. It's a good chance for him to show he can play regularly in our league."

Olsen got a chance to play in 28 games two years ago, but the Hawks were mostly healthy on defense last season, and he spent the whole season at Rockford.

"We had a tough stretch with defensemen being out that one year, but last year we were healthy the whole year and our defense played well," Quenneville said. "For a while there the depth on our back end was limited, and I think now we feel it has improved quite a bit. He gets a great chance there and I'm sure he'll develop and he'll play."

Medical report:

Left wing Bryan Bickell skated Sunday morning for the first time since Nov. 18, when he hurt his left knee at Colorado. But Nikolai Khabibulin is not close to returning, according to Joel Quenneville.

"He's working out like crazy," Quenneville said. "He wants to get healthy. I'm sure he's progressing, but I don't think there's a clear sign of exactly when he'll be on the ice."

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