Blackhawks

Thin at center, Kane could move to the middle

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Thin at center, Kane could move to the middle

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 6:40 p.m. Updated: 8:09 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
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VIDEO: Coach Q comments on Kruger
VIDEO: Salak feels good about his performance
VIDEO: Pirri says he was 'feeling it'

DETROIT -- It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to find guys who can play center. Their depth there is the most shallow of any position.

But when coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday night that they might give Patrick Kane a shot there, it was nonetheless surprising.

Quenneville said Kane could play some center a few minutes after the Blackhawks lost a 4-3 shootout decision to the Detroit Red Wings. Quenneville was first asked about the potential of Michael Frolik playing at the position. Then he mentioned Kane.

"We might try that," he said of his right winger, who is healed after having left wrist surgery back in July. "He's been playing center throughout scrimmages and practices now and we'll see."

When asked if Kane was good with that possibility, Quenneville said, "he's not complaining." Quenneville said Kane has enough of a well-rounded game, including on defense, to give it a try.

"Defensively he's gotten better as he's grown in that position with us, down low on the walls," Quenneville said. "It's something we're going to at least take a look at."

Quenneville had said right before training camp began that he was going to try some different players at center. Obviously he wasn't kidding.

The Blackhawks were hoping that Marcus Kruger would fit in the center mix somewhere. And while Quenneville said Kruger got better as Sunday's game went along, it sounded as if Kruger still wasn't where the Blackhawks want him to be.

"He's been OK this camp," Quenneville said. "He could make plays and he sees plays. But his quickness and strength are things he has to improve on."

Goaltending situation

Quenneville was happy with Sunday's outing by Alex Salak, who stopped 30 of 33 shots. It was Salak's first full game with the Blackhawks.

"He's been good," Quenneville said. "He had an excellent second period and he was real strong in the third. He did a real good job for us."

Ray Emery will get his full-game opportunity on Friday when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Corey Crawford is likely to play the entire game Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

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

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: