Blackhawks

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

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USA TODAY

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

The Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise on Friday when Brandon Davidson joined the team for morning skate after having knee surgery on Nov. 27 to clean up his meniscus.

He was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. But just two weeks into his recovery, the 27-year-old defenseman returned to the ice and has skated in three of the past four days. He's way ahead of schedule and even Davidson is a little surprised by it.

"Sooner than expected, for sure," he said. "When I was told 6-8 weeks, that seemed like forever. But here I am two and a half weeks and I'm on the ice. I'm almost at full workouts. Still having trouble with range of motion, but very happy with how things are going."

The injury happened on Nov. 12 when the Blackhawks were in Carolina. Davidson took a hit that caused his knee to "blow up," which was initially believed to take only a few days to heal. But after the swelling didn't get any better, the Blackhawks felt a minor operation was necessary.

"Fairly easy quick fix," Davidson said. "No real damage, but something that we had to get under control."

Davidson is still at least a couple away weeks from returning to game action, but once he is cleared, there's no guarantee he'll have a spot waiting for him. The Blackhawks had nine defensemen on the ice during Friday's morning skate, showing just how crowded the blue line is.

"It’s great," coach Jeremy Colliton said of having Davidson back on the ice. "More guys healthy, more competition we have for ice and spots. It’s not like he’s ready to come back, but good to see him on the ice. " 

At some point in the near future, the Blackhawks will have to make some roster decisions — perhaps even before the league-wide holiday freeze starting on Dec. 19. But Davidson isn't worried about where he fits in. He can only control what he can control, and getting back to 100 percent is his No. 1 priority right now.

"You know what, I haven't thought a lot about it," Davidson said. "I can definitely see that the numbers are up on the back end, but I feel that when it's time for me to do my job, I can do that to the best of my abilities and I can play for my job."

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Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What will it take for Blackhawks to make playoffs?

What will it take for the Chicago Blackhawks to earn a playoff spot with 10 games remaining? Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss where the Blackhawks stand after a rough 3-2 loss in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

With Corey Crawford at the top of his game again, should the Blackhawks try to ride him into the playoffs? How have Jeremy Colliton’s line changes impacted Patrick Kane’s game? Plus, breakouts from Eric Gustafsson and Brendan Perlini have been huge for the Blackhawks during their recent streak of six straight games with a point. 

0:45 - Missed opportunity for Blackhawks against Canucks

2:45 – Hawks changing up lines has slowed down Patrick Kane

5:45 – Should the Blackhawks ride Corey Crawford while he’s hot?

8:00 – Hawks will need 13-15 points in final 10 games to get playoff spot

10:30 – Brendan Perlini has finally figured it out for Hawks

12:35 – Erik Gustafsson’s breakout year has been vital to Hawks success

15:35 – Dylan Sikura still hasn’t scored, but he’s been all over the ice

18:50 – Prediction time…will the Hawks make the playoffs?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks manufacture point against Canucks despite inconsistent effort

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on Monday:

1. Manufacturing a point

The Blackhawks had a good opportunity on the table. After Arizona lost, they could've pulled within three points of a wildcard spot with a game in hand if they pulled out a victory.

Instead, they settled for the one point, which was obviously important because it moved them within two games. But they weren't satisfied with their effort, especially against a Canucks team that was on the second of a back-to-back and started their 23-year-old rookie goaltender who had only five career NHL starts going into the game.

"We had a chance to jump on ‘em, try to wear them down early and take control of the game and just let them hang around," said Jonathan Toews, who's now three goals away from tying his career high of 34 set during the 2008-09 season. "We didn’t have the speed and pace we needed early on. Obviously it’s nice to get that point. But tough finish."

2. The pros and cons

There's good news and bad news regarding the effort the Blackhawks turned in.

The good news? The defense was solid, allowing only nine total high danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com, after giving up 24 to Montreal and 18 to Toronto.

The bad news? The offense generated just six of their own and were held to two goals, which is below their season average of 3.35 per game. There weren't many high quality opportunities. But the Canucks took advantage of theirs and the Blackhawks didn't until late.

"We didn’t come out hard enough," Erik Gustafsson said. "We know they’re playing back to back and we talked about it before. We needed to come out much harder today. Just a bad 60 minutes. At least we got one point. But we need two now. It’s not fun."

3. Playing down to opponents?

The Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. Every point matters, no matter who the opponent is. But lately they haven't been bringing their A-game against teams below them in the standings. They lost to Los Angeles, barely escaped Anaheim and were fortunate to pick up a point against the Canucks.

Is that a trend or just a blip?

"There's been nights where we've played down, for sure," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I don't know if that's a consistent thing, but obviously there's been some instances where we would've liked to play better against teams we're ahead of in the standings. But we also had a pretty good run there in January where we were beating teams that we needed to beat and that's why we're here. We didn't have it tonight, but we did manufacture a point and gotta just use the two days to reload here and get back at it."

4. Patrick Kane hits century mark

For the second time in his NHL career, Kane has hit the 100-point mark. It was only a matter of when, not if. And after going pointless in Montreal, he didn't have to wait too much longer to do it. 

With a primary assist on Toews' power-play goal in the first period, Kane became the third player in franchise history to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Jeremy Roenick (three times) and Denis Savard (five). He also became the fifth American-born player to accomplish that feat.

Kane joins Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton's Connor McDavid as the first three players to reach 100 points this season. Kane's career high is 106, set during the 2015-16 campaign when he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. And with 10 games remaining, there's a good chance he breaks that, too.