CHICAGO -- If it wasn’t official before, it is now. Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is in a major scoring funk causing coach Joel Quenneville to drop him from the Hawks’ star-laden first power play unit to a more ordinary looking second group.
Kane is usually on the ice with buddy Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa up front with Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith on the blue-line. But Tuesday he lined up with Dave Bolland and Jimmy Hayes while Nick Leddy and Brent Seabrook manned the point on the second unit.
“We had to change something, no matter who would be changed everybody might think it was a sideways move,” Quenneville said after practice. “But both units can be effective.”
Change had to happen because the Hawks are 1 for their last 22 with the man advantage including a killer 0 for 5 on Monday against Edmonton. That included two back-to-back third-period power plays, one of which lasted four minutes. It doomed them in the 4-3 loss.
“For me personally, I want to get more production to get back up to that top unit and be on there,” Kane said. “I hope I can help out that other unit and try to make plays there. The power play has been struggling so I guess you can understand the changes.”
Change had to happen but make no mistake Kane was moved because of his struggles. He has two goals in the past 20 games. That’s a quarter of the season. He has just nine on the season which puts him on pace for his lowest career total (21 as a rookie). For comparison Viktor Stalberg has nine goals and Andrew Brunette has eight. Neither can be confused with Kane.
“It’s never fun when you’re not scoring goals, that’s for sure,” Kane said. “For me, I try not to worry about it too much, just try to keep having fun, playing the game you love. Hopefully the things you do will get you out of it I guess.”
Kane is still helping as a playmaker so his game hasn’t completely disappeared. He helped beat the Detroit Red Wings with a perfect set-up for Brent Seabrook’s third-period game-winner.
“It’s not all about scoring,” Toews said. “He knows that. He’s playing center now. He can do some other things to benefit our team. Whether he’s scoring or not he just has to work through it. When pucks aren’t going in you just have to work harder and eventually you get a funny bounce. Weird thing, the confidence will come rushing back.”
Even the stars go through their confidence issues and Kane is feeling it right now but as Toews said, he can’t hang his head. Quenneville agrees.
“We need him to produce at that rate we’re accustomed to, but I think it’s a two-way street where ‘Let's go give some confidence,’ but you have to find your way to push yourself through it as well,” Quenneville said.
Kane on the second unit, with just nine goals through 39 games and two over the last 20 is hard to believe. Maybe it’s a sign of the talent on the Hawks that they are still at the top of the standings despite his struggles. Maybe a message was sent with the power play demotion.
“Maybe a little bit,” Kane said. “I try not to think about it too much.”
Carcillo hit: It’s a little bit of a surprise that not many Hawks say they saw the hit Dan Carcillo put on Tom Gilbert Monday night against Edmonton, thus their inability to render an opinion on it.
Even the next day, no one claimed to have seen a replay of it.
“I really can’t comment on it right now because I didn’t see the hit, and I haven’t seen the clip,” Toews said. “Before I say anything on that I have to see what happened.”
Toews has been outspoken about players policing themselves when it comes to dirty hits. Carcillo’s should draw just as much criticism inside the Hawks dressing room as an opponent’s would. But first they have to see it.
Back to Philadelphia: Thursday marks the first time the Hawks will return to Philadelphia since raising the Stanley Cup by winning Game 6 of the finals in June 2010. It’s bound to bring back some memories.
“I can imagine just being at the hotel, being at the rink, all those things will bring back some pretty cool memories,” Toews said. “I’m excited for that.
“Just being back in that locker room, we’ll have some old stories we can tell. I’m sure the new guys are sick enough about hearing all that stuff. They’ll have a couple more days of it I guess.”
Toews admitted he’s watched a couple of the Stanley cup finals games recently.
“I downloaded a couple of those last games on I-tunes, games 5 and 6,” he said. “And one day we were watching on the plane, a bunch of guys huddled around the seat to watch it on the plane. Even watching those last two games, you know the outcome but it still makes you nervous to watch. A lot of those cool feeling come rushing back.”
Quenneville called it a “great moment” and the “highlight of my career.”
Toews remembers the moment commissioner Gary Bettman handed him the Cup.
“I had a solid five seconds before I handed it off to [Hossa] but it was a good five seconds, and I made sure I had a little skate with it later on,” he said. “But to be the first to hoist it was awesome.”
Quenneville said Marcus Kruger had a setback as he recovers from a concussion. “Kruger not so good today ... he was progressing there pretty good, today was kind of a tough day,” Quenneville said.
Steve Montador sat out practice Tuesday after missing Monday’s game. Quenneville said he was “closer” to returning from an upper-body injury.
Jimmy Hayes was all smiles talking about his first NHL goal, scored late in the game against Edmonton on Monday. “It was a huge thrill,” he said. “It’s something you dream of your whole life. It was a lot of fun and good to finally get the first one out of the way.” Hayes was on the second power play unit at practice on Tuesday. “It’s a thrill to be out there on the power play. Just got to be a big guy and be a decoy out there and screen the goalie and what not.”
Quenneville ran a hard practice on Tuesday. One-on-one drills was followed by hard skating with no pucks and then a scolding at center ice by the coach. “Just disappointed,” Bryan Bickell said. “Edmonton embarrassed us in their rink and we wanted redemption and we weren’t mentally ready. I think Q was embarrassed for the team and I think everyone was too. We just didn’t have the level of effort coming into that game to get payback. Today’s practice was a good example of what we need to do next game…It came down to our power play. It needed to come through and it didn’t."