They probably didn’t imagine being this different.
When Kane suffered a lower-body injury against the St. Louis Blues on March 19, the Blackhawks not only lost their best offensive player, but they also someone who didn’t need other offensive weapons around him to make his line a threat. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville could balance his other three lines knowing he could rely on Kane and whoever was around him.
Losing Kane meant the Blackhawks lost a level to their depth, and that’s been noticeable in the five games he’s been gone. The Blackhawks have been outscored 11-4 in 5-on-5 situations, been shut out twice and have a 2-3 record since Kane went out of the lineup.
The Blackhawks weren’t exactly rolling offensively with Kane in the past month, but their depth still often trumped teams and outplayed them in 5-on-5 situations. The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 20-13 in 5-on-5 situations in the 10 games with Kane since the Olympic break
The Blackhawks have been outscored in 5-on-5 situations in just 14 games this season. Three of those occurred in November. One came in December. Five were in January. Two more came between Feb. 27 and Kane’s injury. Since Kane’s departure, the Blackhawks have been outscored three times in 5-on-5 situations in the last five games.
Shutouts are also something that hasn’t happened with Kane in the lineup this season. The three times the Blackhawks have been blanked this season Kane was out. Aside from the two recent shutouts, he missed their 3-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Feb. 7 due to a personal matter.
The Blackhawks have been able to produce 10 goals in Kane’s absence in the last five games, but they’ve had to get them in a variety of ways. Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa each scored a goal in 5-on-5 situations. Versteeg scored once on a 4-on-4. Hossa scored an empty-net goal. Andrew Shaw and Sharp scored power-play goals. Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews scored shorthanded goals.
The good news for the Blackhawks is Kane will be back for the playoffs. The bad news is they have seven more regular-season games until he returns. If the Blackhawks want to close out the regular season on a strong note, they have to find a way to play better without him.