Blackhawks

Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

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Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 6:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Patrick Kane sported a shiner around his right eye, one of several colorful souvenirs he probably has after getting knocked around pretty well by the very physical Vancouver Canucks.

So might it be a good idea for the Chicago Blackhawks to get another guy who can give some of that back?

Yeah, I think so, Kane said. Going forward that would be nice to have.

The Blackhawks wont go through a big roster overhaul again this summer. They wont be facing the money crunch that demanded it last summer. But they do need to acquire some grit and mettle again to let the opposition know the Blackhawks are not going to stand for their stars getting beaten up.

See, as much as getting rid of a lot of guys last summer, it was getting rid of the same type of guys that hurt. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager they muscled their ways into tough areas, crashed nets, won puck battles and defended teammates against physical opponents. They were the abrasive grease that helped the sleek Blackhawks machine and its skill guys running at top speed.

Much of that was gone this season, or at least it wasnt there on a consistent basis. Hats off to guys like Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik taking it upon themselves to throw a few licks out there, despite it not really being part of their game. But so many of the Blackhawks skill players had to do it all: get pucks, score and most of all, defend themselves against opponents who were trying to erase them.

I think there's something to that extent. Whether it's team toughness or across the board, we need to be tougher to play against, coach Joel Quenneville said. Whether we address personnel, that's an area we like to make sure we're definitely harder to play against.

Jonathan Toews said that for guys like him and Kane, a summer like this is good to mature physically and be able to play that style more. Sure they could do that, but they have enough on their plates. Just go out and get another guy who can take the physical pressure off the guys who were expected to carry this team to the postseason late in the game.

The Blackhawks put up the good fight against the bruising Canucks and were one goal away from taking a trip to the second round in San Jose. Their top players took their knocks this season in the process and were still getting battered in Game 7. Acquiring a guy who can get in someones face and keep Kanes safe when that happens could be just what the Blackhawks need to get back to long postseasons.

It's always nice to have someone who can fight and be a force on the ice who can also play, Kane said. We had guys who could do it this year, guys like (Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer). (John) Scott had a good presence in the series. But it would be nice to get someone, for sure.

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

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."