Blackhawks

As expected, Patrick Kane ready to go for Blackhawks in Game 1

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As expected, Patrick Kane ready to go for Blackhawks in Game 1

The clearance came on Monday afternoon. The foregone conclusion came on Tuesday. Patrick Kane is good to go for Game 1.

Kane will play on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators in the opener of their first-round series. It wasn’t a big surprise to get the confirmation, given everything Kane was doing in Monday’s practice. He was doing the same things on Tuesday, skating with Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards and working on the power play.

“It’s exciting,” said Kane, who missed seven weeks with a fractured left clavicle. “It’s been a long 50 days here, so it’s a credit to a lot of hard work from obviously the doctors and the trainers and just listening to them and trying to heal as fast as possible.”

Kane was originally expected to miss nearly two months, maybe even more, with his injury.

“It wasn’t in the cards knowing we had to get through a round or two before he could even be considered,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “This is a very positive situation for us, knowing what he brings to the table. He was having an MVP-type of season. Getting him back just makes you have so many more options. His versatility in all areas certainly enhances our team.”

[PLAYOFF PRIMER: Blackhawks-Predators Round 1: Who has the edge?]

The Blackhawks head into this series just about completely healthy. Kane was the Blackhawks’ most consistent scorer when he was injured – his 64 points led the NHL at the time. Puck possession should improve again, too. Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks fared pretty well without him but obviously get a boost with his return.

“Aside from the losses that we went into the end of the season with, I think we were playing good hockey,” Toews said. “We’re confident as a group. We made it this far, played a number of games without our best player and our top scorer. To get him back I think is only going to help us.”

As for the physical game, which is always that much more intense in the postseason, Kane said he’s ready for it. He’ll have to be; there’s no doubt the Predators will be trying to stop Kane with big hits. Kane said he’s as ready as he’ll ever be to absorb the punishment.

“We tested it out a few times, a few different things where guys run into me, guys checking me. I just kind of feel confidence there,” Kane said. “That’s another thing there for my peace of mind, just being confident with where I’m at right now and I’m not thinking about it too much on the ice, because it is in good shape and it is ready to be out there competing.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

Still, there’s no way one of his teammates is going to hit him like an opponent would.

“I think that’s what starts everyone, that first shift, getting hit, getting pushed around. Handling that is something of anadjustment here but you can’t formulate that type of a hit until you go out and get hits,” Quenneville said. “It’s something he’ll deal with, adapt and play accordingly.”

Kane has the full green light. He’ll be tested as soon as he comes back by the Predators but he’s confident that he’s healthy and ready to go.

“We’re at the point right now where it’s pretty safe to go out there and try and compete and play. I think that’s important, too, not only for me but for the team, as well. Because I want to feel like I can contribute andproduce when I am back in the lineup,” Kane said. “By no means is it anything that we rushed back. I think you see different players go through this injury. Jason Zucker, I think he came back around the same timetable as I am. I think Brian Campbell in 2010 came back at around five or six weeks. So it’s an injury that can be healed and some people are a little bit more different than others. It’s just kind of my timetable, when I was ready to play.”

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Anton Forsberg to tribute Avicii with new mask

Goaltender masks are often a place for artistic expression and tribute. Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg is adding his own touching tribute this season.

The 25-year-old Swedish goalie chose to tribute Avicii with an image of the musician on his goalie mask. Avicii, a fellow Swede, died by suicide in April.

David Gunnarsson, a professional mask artist, did the art for Forsberg's mask and posted it on Instagram.

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Today we have the honor to present Anton Forsberg´s new Blackhawks mask for the coming season😊🥅. Anton knew what he wanted on his new mask, he wanted to pay tribute to the Swedish DJ legend Tim Bergling❤️, a.k.a Avicii, who recently passed away. Just as Anton I am also a big admirer of his music and person and family🙏🏻❤️. It was a huge honor for me to paint and create this painting together with Anton in honor to Avicii´s family, they were also the first to see this painting❤️. The rest of the mask is painted in an old school and clean style, and on the other side of the mask Anton`s best friend pop up and makes him company in the net. @antonforsbeerg @nhlblackhawks @nhl @daveart

A post shared by David Gunnarsson (@daveart) on

According to Tracey Myers of NHL.com, Forsberg asked Avicii's parents for permission before going ahead with it.

"I've always listened to his music and have been a big fan of it," Forsberg said. "For me, there was no hesitation putting him on the mask."

Forsberg wore last season's mask in his preseason debut in Detroit on Thursday so he hasn't shown off the new gear just yet. That may need to wait for the regular season.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks training camp twist, Boqvist in?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks training camp twist, Boqvist in?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis talk about Joel Quenneville leaving the door open for No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist to start the season with the Blackhawks. What are the chances he and Henri Jokiharju both make the team?

The guys also discuss Corey Crawford's status and what to make of his abbreviated on-ice session after six straight days of skating, Connor Murphy's injury that could sideline him until December, how the line of Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane will work and the new 1-3-1 power play structure.

They also weigh in on which position battles they're looking forward to tracking during the back half of training camp.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!