Blackhawks

Kane embraces being center of attention

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Kane embraces being center of attention

It was less than two weeks ago when Joel Quenneville dropped the news in an oh-by-the-way fashion in Detroit: he was going to try Patrick Kane at center. It was an experiment, a chance to see what Kane, who had played center growing up, could do with it at this level.

It was surprising to hear. Even Kane, who said general manager Stan Bowman talked to him about playing center last summer, sounded a bit reluctant.

"Especially coming off the wrist injury I thought I was going right to right wing and just getting back into that," Kane said Wednesday. "But it's been good so far."

It's been so good that it's carrying over to Friday's season opener, when Kane will center his line with Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa when the Blackhawks play the Dallas Stars. Coach Joel Quenneville has liked what he's seen from that trio -- Kane and Hossa have a natural chemistry and Brunette is finding his niche with them -- and how Kane's adjusted.

"He'll continue to grow in that area but his instincts ard good on both sides," Quenneville said after the Blackhawks' preseason finale in Washington D.C. "He'll improve in his position down low."

For Kane, this has been one more job to add to the resume. It was one thing to have a center past as a kid, another to do it at this level. But his comfort level with Hossa has helped, and Hossa and Brunette have assisted him with the down-low play.

"We've talked about it, the three of us. We all have pretty good experience.They're down low first and they'll stay there and come up with pucks," Kane said. "Offensively hopefully we can just work our magic and be a good line."

Bowman, who is confident with the Blackhawks' depth at center, never doubted Kane's ability to play there.

"He's such a smart player," Bowman said. "I like watching him play with Marian. The one difficulty we've had is those two never played together because they played the same position. We like how that's worked so far."

Linemate Brunette said "the center has the puck a lot and that falls right into his strengths. It's a tough position in your own end, and that's probably something he feels the need to get used to. But it's something he can definitely do."

It sounds like Kane is embracing this challenge more now than a few weeks ago. He has said he wants to prove to others and to himself that he can play this spot.

It would still be surprising if Kane's at center come the end of the season. Then again, the experiment that seemed likely to last just a preseason game or two is continuing. As long as it works, Kane will stay put.

"Starting the regular season we'll do it a little bit," Kane said. "It would be nice to prove I can play center, that I can play a couple different positions, show some versatility for the coaches. There have been some good things and bad things. Hopefully I keep getting better at it."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?