Chicago, IL (WGR 550) -- We really shouldn’t be surprised, but it was almost shocking that Ryan O’Reilly was back and in full practice just 10 days after an emergency appendectomy. Dan Bylsma didn’t think he’d have his number one center back so soon, “I was pleasantly shocked to know that he’s doing that well and that he feels great.”
O’Reilly saw the doctor and joined Tyler Ennis in Buffalo for Tuesday’s skate. O’Reilly said, “It felt great, it felt great to be back on the ice, it feels like it’s been months. I feel 100 percent, it’s just a matter of making sure everyone’s on board.”
On Wednesday afternoon there’s going to be a conference call between O’Reilly, his doctor, Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray to see if he gets the final approval to play Thursday. O’Reilly said there’s no question in his mind, “I want to play tomorrow, I know I can. I might be a little rusty, but I feel I’m ready to get back and can still be effective, it’s just a matter of making sure everyone is safe with it.”
O’Reilly did not have a good game in Brooklyn before the Christmas break, but he said he was not feeling it then, “No, I wish I could use that as an excuse, but in that game, I didn’t play the way I wanted to.”
“This came out of nowhere, the morning of the 24th I felt my stomach upset and I didn’t think anything of it. I tried to settle it, but nothing happened so at night at 10:30, I called the Doc and I told him I wanted to make sure this wasn’t an appendicitis and unfortunately it was, but it was good we caught it in time.”
Bylsma liked what he heard after practice was over. He said, “He felt really good on the ice, has no side effects, there’s no feeling of the surgery that took place, so that’s a good indication that maybe we’ll see him tomorrow.” O’Reilly said the original timetable was two weeks.
Dmitry Kulikov is not with the team as he again has back and tailbone problems. Bylsma said, “He saw the doctor on January 2nd or 3rd and has seen some improvement and seen some good things.”
Jake McCabe is nursing a hand injury and didn’t practice on Wednesday. Bylsma said he’s confident the defenseman will play on Thursday.
Josh Gorges did participate in practice and took McCabe’s spot with Rasmus Ristolainen.
Will Carrier missed practice because he was sick.
Sam Reinhart has started to play well at center. He has points in six out of seven games picking up eight points. With that in mind, Bylsma said he’s going to use Reinhart, Jack Eichel and O’Reilly as his top three centers.
The lines on Wednesday were:
Foligno Eichel Okposo
Kane Reinhart Bailey
Grant O’Reilly Gionta
Deslauriers Girgensons Moulson
With it looking like O’Reilly might play, Zemgus Girgensons was centering the fourth line. Girgensons had a goal in the win over the Rangers and Bylsma thinks it was his best game, “As the center of the checking line, I thought he did a real good job of it.”
“I think he can use last night’s game to move forward, it was really his best game, his most complete game and that’s what we’ve got to keep getting from him.”
News from the Blackhawks is that Marian Hossa should be ready to return on Thursday. Hossa has 16 goals in 34 games and missed five games with an upper body injury. The Hawks have lost four of those five games scoring eight goals.