Blackhawks: Patrick Kane's focus back on game, not injury


Blackhawks: Patrick Kane's focus back on game, not injury

Patrick Kane was like any player coming off an injury that sidelined him for several weeks.

Returning to the game, one that only gets more physical when the playoffs begin, the obvious question was there: how will that surgically-repaired left clavicle react to that first big hit? Kane got that “test” in Game 5 after Nashville forward Mike Ribeiro landed a big hit on him.

“Once you get bumped a couple of times and get hit pretty good, you see the bone’s still strong and good enough to take those hits,” said Kane prior to Game 6 in Chicago. “I’m at the point now where when I’m on the ice I’m worrying about my play, worrying about what I can do to better myself and help the team win.”

[MORE: Blackhawks rally to beat Predators, advance to second round]

Considering his Game 6 performance, Kane is obviously just fine.

Kane scored the game-tying goal with six seconds remaining in the first period and assisted on Jonathan Toews’ power-play goal on Saturday night, when the Blackhawks came back to beat the Predators 4-3 and advance to the second round. Kane, who was out seven weeks with his injury, had two goals and five assists in those six games vs. the Predators.

“He was really good in our series,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We all have expectations from Kaner and they’re all high-end. But the fact [is] that he got into it right off the bat and made an impact on our team. He had some big games in this series, gave them a lot to be concerned with when he was on the ice. Good play recognition, good patience, good first series for him.”

Kane’s impact in the series was immediate. The Blackhawks' power play didn’t score much during the series but it did generate two goals in the first game, and Kane had the primary assists on both of them.

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Teammates weren’t surprised Kane bounced back immediately.

“That’s one of the players, a superstar. He can miss whatever he misses, can come back and he’s back to it,” Marian Hossa said. “You cannot teach that. He’s got it.”

Kane was happy with what he did coming off his injury. As usual, he was more focused on what he could improve as the playoffs continue. But his impact was immediate. He took the big hit. He absorbed it. He was perfectly fine after it. His focus is back to his game, and his game is as healthy and strong as that clavicle.

“There are different things I can do better. I probably want to control the play a little more,” Kane said. “I’ll try to improve off those levels but it’s nice to get some games under my belt, feel confident out there, not worry about where I am with my injury and just move on here and play hockey.”

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

DALLAS — The Blackhawks have gotten extended looks this season at two of their coveted defensemen prospects in Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert, the latter of whom is better known for his defensive game than offensive prowess. 

On Sunday, it was Lucas Carlsson's turn.

With Erik Gustafsson being held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons ahead of Monday's trade deadline, the Blackhawks called up Carlsson for their four-game road trip that kicked off in Dallas. They wasted no time in throwing their 2016 fourth-round pick into action despite having no practice session or a morning skate for him to get acclimated to the group.

"Maybe it's easier for me to just get right into it, I don't know," a smiling Carlsson said following a 2-1 loss to the Stars. "It was fun, obviously. I was a bit nervous at the start, but I think I got into it pretty quickly. I just try and play my game, don't change anything. Obviously you have to adjust a little bit, everything's much faster here, so it's good."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said before the game he wanted Carlsson to be clean with the puck, have a tight gap and be physical when he needed to. And Carlsson did exactly that.

The 22-year-old Swedish blue liner had one shot attempt, one blocked shot and three hits in 14:55 of ice time while playing on the second pairing with Connor Murphy. He wasn't too noticeable, but that's not intended to sound negative. He kept it simple, played his game and didn't make any glaring mistakes in his NHL debut.

"I thought he was good," Colliton said. "He was assertive, physical, made plays, skated the puck. He did well for himself, so [I'm] happy for him in his first game."

The one noticeable offensive play Carlsson did make came in the third period when he delivered a nifty backhand pass between his legs in the slot to Dominik Kubalik, who looked surprised it even got to him. It nearly created a prime scoring chance, but the puck got away from Kubalik.

Carlsson clearly wasn't lacking confidence, which is always a good thing as younger players tend to play timid while they try figuring out the league. He's a sound defender with some offensive upside — he led all Rockford IceHogs defensemen in goals (five), assists (21) and points (26) — and is out to prove he belongs at the NHL level.

"Of course," Carlsson said. "I still have one more year on my contract, so I want to show what I can do and hopefully play a few more games here and see what happens."

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Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

DALLAS — Brandon Saad knows what it’s like to be traded. He’s been moved twice in his NHL career — once from Chicago to Columbus and then again from Columbus to Chicago. Both of those deals were made in the summer, though, and they were also unexpected.

With the NHL trade deadline on Monday at 2 p.m., Saad knows his name is out there and admitted the possibility of being dealt is on his mind.

"A little bit," Saad said following a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday. "That's part of the business, right? Love it here in Chicago but it is what it is. You wait for tomorrow and there's always rumors floating, but at the end of the day, you just focus on hockey games and winning here with the Blackhawks and see what happens."

The Blackhawks aren’t necessarily shopping Saad, but they are listening to offers. The return would have to start with at least a first-round pick for the Blackhawks to even consider that possibility, and it’s unclear whether anybody has gotten close to meeting their demands.

What makes Saad an attractive trade piece is the fact he has one year left on his contract after this season at a $6 million cap hit. General managers across the NHL have been reluctant to give up first-round selections for rentals, and it’s hard to blame them. Giving up a king's ransom for pending unrestricted free agents, historically, backfires more often than not.

Jason Zucker, Blake Coleman and, most recently, Ondrej Kase were all moved and fetched first-rounders because they have term left on their contract. Chris Kreider and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, both of whom are at the top of TSN’s trade bait list, have not been traded with less than 20 hours to go until the deadline and you have to wonder how much that has to do with contending teams not being willing to meet the high price tag for a rental.

The Boston Bruins reportedly expressed interest in Saad, but that was before they acquired Kase. The Edmonton Oilers have also checked in, but would they be willing to part ways with their first-rounder? How about the Colorado Avalanche?

GM Stan Bowman's phone line is going to be busy in the coming hours as teams start to put together their final offers, but Saad is hoping he remains with the Blackhawks.

"It's just part of the business, right?" Saad said. "At the end of the day, you're a hockey player, so you're going to play hard for whoever you're with and take it as it comes. The other ones were in the summertime, so I've never dealt with it at the deadline, so that's always a new experience. But hopefully I'm here in Chicago."

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