Blackhawks: Patrick Kane hitting his postseason stride


Blackhawks: Patrick Kane hitting his postseason stride

Patrick Kane talked of the Blackhawks’ four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild, the second-round series in which he scored five goals, nearly as many as the Wild itself.

“I still think there [are] some areas that I can try to improve a little bit,” Kane said. “I play with some great players who have given me some great chances to get some great looks and it is going in the back of the net.”

The great players always look for ways to improve; it’s part of their DNA. Still, to hear Kane, who’s playing as well as ever coming off that fractured left clavicle, saying he can get better still makes you shake your head.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Patrick Kane jersey here]

Until the final three minutes of Thursday’s game, Kane had as many goals (five) as the Minnesota Wild through the entire four-game series – the Wild scored two in those waning minutes.

In all, Kane has recorded at least one point in nine of the Blackhawks’ 10 postseason games. When the playoffs roll around, top players usually have less space and fewer opportunities to score. Kane’s proving that wrong.

“He has a special ability where he can find spots and create things out of nothing, really,” Johnny Oduya said. “Obviously he’s good with the timely goals, too. It’s something that you like to have on your team, especially as a D man. It can just be a break, you score a goal and you’re up. We’re fortunate to have him here. We have a couple of guys like that, who are special players.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Michal Rozsival lost for the season]

When Kane returned from his clavicle surgery after seven weeks, the question was how long would it take for him to get back to normal. Kane wondered himself, especially in the more physical postseason. How would he react after that first big hit? Kane got his answer in Game 5 against Nashville, when Predators forward Mike Ribeiro landed a big hit on him. Kane came out of that hit healthy giving him the confidence to forget about his injury and concentrate on his game, with tremendous results.

“I know when he first came back he was a little slow, hesitant. But every game since he’s been comfortable,” Bryan Bickell said. “I think he’s back to where he was before that injury, when he was an elite top scorer in the league. And we need him. He’s a guy we can depend on. When big goals are needed, he finds the back of the net.”

Kane is playing as well as ever. He says there are still areas in which he can improve. He’s already off to one heck of a postseason start.

“That’s just like any other game,” Kane said. “You take what happened the game before and wipe the slate clean and do your best the next game.”

All-female crew to broadcast and produce Blackhawks-Blues coverage on March 8


All-female crew to broadcast and produce Blackhawks-Blues coverage on March 8

On Sunday, NBC Sports announced an all-female crew will broadcast and produce coverage for March 8's Blackhawks vs. Blues contest at the United Center.

The broadcast will coincide with International Women’s Day and mark the first NHL game broadcast and produced solely by women in the U.S.

Kate Scott will handle play-by-play duties, U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne-Schofield will serve as the "inside the glass" analyst and AJ Mleczko - also a gold medalist with the U.S. - will work as an analyst from the game in Chicago. 

Back in the studio, Kathryn Tappen will anchor with three-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist Jen Botterill on hand. Producer Rene Hatlelid and director Lisa Seltzer will lead game production.

From NBC Sports' release:

"The first-of-its-kind broadcast will be in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, which dates back over 100 years. Throughout the broadcast there will be nods to those who have made their mark on women’s hockey, and sports in general, with the hopes to inspire future generations of women to excel on the ice and behind the scenes."

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Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Three unlikely heroes emerged in Calgary on Saturday night to help the Blackhawks find some footing near the end of their five-game road trip (currently 1-3-0) that wraps up Sunday in Winnipeg.

Blackhawks rookie center Kirby Dach hadn't scored a goal in six games; Alex DeBrincat had one marker in his last nine after finishing last season with 41; Alex Nylander had one goal in his past 17 contests.

The trio bounced back against the Flames to help the Hawks to an 8-4 victory.

Nylander scored twice, and DeBrincat and Dach each had a goal.

"It’s a learning process for us that [haven't] been through this," Nylander said after the game. "And we are lucky that we have these vets that are on our team that can help us and see that something like this in the season happens."

Related: Blackhawks' offense explodes in Calgary

Of all the Hawks who have gone cold this season, the most surprising was DeBrincat, who posted 41 goals last season and 28 as a rookie the year prior.

"I've been fighting with the puck a little bit too much," he said. "Even today, I didn't really play that well, but finally got rewarded."

Six points out of a playoff spot, having the three forwards off the schneid could be a big factor in the Hawks putting a streak together to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Those guys, they have the ability to chip in for us offensively and if they can do that it's going to make a big difference for us," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the three. "Ultimately, it comes down to their work ethic away from the puck."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews felt Dach, DeBrincat and Nylander gave the Hawks a much-needed lift on Saturday.

"For guys like that and the way they think, the way they play the game, their skillset, scoring goals gives you a ton of energy, it gives you a lift," Toews said. "It's nice to see them get a few and see a few pucks go in.

"I think even if you're just on the ice, you have nothing to do with the play, just to be around goals is infectious. So it's nice to see those guys make those plays as a result of their hard work and it's an incentive to keep doing the same thing."

Hopefully the goal infection spreads for the Hawks. Despite being six points out of the playoffs, Chicago has three games in hand on the Arizona Coyotes, who occupy the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

With 24 games remaining, scoring contributions will have to come from across the board for the Blackhawks to go on a successful run to secure a playoff spot.

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