Caggiula hasn’t played since Nov. 10 vs. Toronto due to a concussion he suffered from taking a puck to the face.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will return to the lineup on Thursday against the Nashville Predators. Caggiula has missed the last 27 games while in concussion protocol.
The 25-year-old forward has played in just 15 games for the Blackhawks this season with three goals and one assist. Caggiula’s been close to returning for about a month, but it was just a matter of shedding the lingering symptoms.
“It’s exciting,” Caggiula said about finally returning to the lineup. “From maybe thinking you might not play this year to, ‘Okay, maybe I do got a chance to play’, to now that chance has finally come. I’m excited to be back on the ice, helping my teammates, being a part of the grind and doing whatever I can to help the team win.”
With a handful of forwards (Saad, Shaw, Strome) currently out, the Blackhawks certainly could use Caggiula’s ability to slot up and down the lineup. Caggiula may be known as a grinder, but he’s had success in the past on the top line with Jonathan Toews. The Pickering, Ontario native skated with Toews during Wednesday’s practice, so it appears that’s where he’ll start Thursday’s game vs. Nashville.
“He provides an element for us,” coach Jeremy Colliton said on Caggiula. “Aggressive and kind of a pest out there and he’s got some skill. He’ll go to the net and provides energy. Excited to have him in.”
Caggiula’s return to the team comes at a crucial point in the season. The Blackhawks are currently seven points back of a playoff spot through 44 games and have some pivotal matchups in the coming weeks. Now is a perfect time for an energy guy like Caggiula to come in and provide a spark to the team.
“We’re over the halfway point of the season, a lot of guys are tired and run-down, and I’m the opposite of that,” Caggiula said. “So hopefully I can provide a lot of energy and just a spark for the guys. Having a fresh body in the lineup is always a positive thing and hopefully I can help out the team.”
With Caggiula entering back into the lineup, the Blackhawks will scratch Dylan Sikura against the Predators. Dylan Strome remains out with an ankle injury, and Slater Koekkoek will dress in favor of Dennis Gilbert. Gilbert has struggled mightily as of late, so it was probably a wise decision to get Koekkoek in there for a game.
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