CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp is well aware of how important he is to the Chicago Blackhawks. All he has to do is look at the standings since he left the lineup in early March.
"I'm still undefeated," Sharp said jokingly. "That's all I know."
He's right, if you don't count shootout losses. The Blackhawks were 21-0-3 with Sharp in the lineup and now just 4-4-0 since he's been out with an upper-body injury.
Neither Sharp nor Marian Hossa (upper-body injury) will be in the lineup Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, but both were practicing with the Blackhawks on Thursday for the first time since they went out with their respective injuries.
The two star forwards are getting closer to returning, but Sharp will miss his ninth straight game and Hossa will miss his fourth in a row when the Blackhawks take on the Ducks (8:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network-U.S.).
"They're out for [Friday]. Don't want to go much further than that," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Thursday. "Nice to see them in practice, (but) no contact yet. We're going to make sure they're more than ready, maybe even give them extra time to make sure they'll be ready."
Chicago plays at the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday and then is off until facing the St. Louis Blues at home next Thursday.
It's possible both Sharp and Hossa are in the lineup against the Blues, but neither provided a specific timeline.
"I don't set any dates," Hossa said. "I'll play when I feel 100 percent."
Conditioning is not a concern with either player.
Hossa has been out only a week and Sharp, who has been out of the lineup since March 8, has been skating on his own for two weeks.
"I feel like I'm right there," Sharp said. "It's an upper-body injury so I have been doing a lot of skating, the legs feel good. It's just a matter of getting some timing back."
Provided Hossa and Sharp don't have any setbacks, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman could decide that having them back in the lineup by early April is better than any trade-deadline deal he could make.
Bowman said last week that if he makes a deal it would be to bolster the Hawks' depth for a long playoff run.
"Hopefully I wasn't out that long that they'd forgotten about me," Sharp said, laughing. "Any time you can get healthy guys back in the lineup it gives the guys a spark. The team has been playing well. Being injured, you get a chance to take a deep breath, get conditioning in there and come back even stronger. I know I'm excited to get back and I'm sure Hoss is the same way."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer
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