Blackhawks

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

kanepreds.png

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.

[SHOP: Get a Patrick Kane jersey here]

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.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

cam_ward_ap.jpg
AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

hawks_bad_record.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.