Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane

Q turns to old reliable: Kane & Toews

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
4:24
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would prefer to keep Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews apart.

Toews on one line and Kane on another makes the Blackhawks more dangerous across the board, in Quenneville's opinion. But when the Blackhawks are desperate for goals and playing in a series where scoring can be difficult, such as vs. the St. Louis Blues in their first-round series, Quenneville isn't reluctant to go Voltron on his opponents and unite Kane and Toews.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesPatrick Kane and Jonathan Toews haven't played much together the past few seasons but they still know each other's game.
Quenneville displayed different lines during the morning skate and warm-ups prior to Game 3 on Monday, but he combined Toews and Kane along with Bryan Bickell to start the game. The line produced one goal in Chicago's 2-0 win and created about as many shot attempts as they allowed, and Quenneville liked what he saw from the trio. In the series, Chicago trails St. Louis 2-1.

"We talked last night that their anticipation offensively and their familiarity with one another, their playmaking and patience with the puck [is what Toews and Kane bring to us]," Quenneville said Tuesday. "I think [Bickell] brings a little bit something as well. I think as you go through a series, you look for things that might possibly work. I thought that line was effective last night.

"We thought last year in the playoffs when they did get together, whether they started a series or a middle of a series, that they seemed to get excited about it. I know [Toews] would like to play with [Kane], and we like that balance that it presents when they're apart. Sometimes in a course of a series you try it. I thought last night it was OK."

Kane and Toews were once inseparable for Quenneville. During the Blackhawks' 2009-10 Stanley Cup season, Kane and Toews shared the ice for 678:42 in 5-on-5 situations, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. The next season they were together for 722:47.

Over the last couple seasons, Quenneville's mentality has changed. He's opted to split them up. Last season, they shared the ice for just 99:41 in 5-on-5 situations. This season, their shared ice time has been 212:53.

Even though Kane and Toews haven't been together as much over the past few seasons, Kane believes they still understand each other's game.

"That's something when you kind of grow up with someone, and you're together for this long and know someone for this long, I think it helps when you play with each other on the ice," Kane said on Tuesday. "Our first few years, it seems like we played together a lot. Lately, not as much, but still, when you get together you try to figure out what was successful when you did play together and try to use that when you're on the ice together."

The duo showed off that chemistry in Game 1 when Toews connected with Kane on a stretch pass, freeing Kane for a breakaway goal.

"I feel like on the offensive side, we both do some different things, but both try and read the game the same way, to the point where we're getting chances offensively," Kane said. "I don't know, last night we had a few chances that it would have been nice to bury, especially some that he gave me. It would be nice to have those back, but like I said, hopefully as we get some more chemistry, we're able to bury those and take advantage of our opportunities."

Toews said Monday that the familiarity and confidence are in place whenever he and Kane step on the ice together.

"There's just lots of confidence there," Toews said after Game 3. "I think we know what to expect. We know that every shift we go out there that we can get that puck possession and create stuff, and the more we create the more it's going to go in. We got one early tonight and didn't find a way after that, but we still had some great chances."

Quenneville said he is likely going to keep the pair together going forward. Kane believes the line is capable of more.

"I still feel that we could probably play a little bit better," Kane said. "We haven't played with each other much throughout the season, so it was, I think anytime you play together you get excited about playing with each other. We had some success last year in the playoffs together, too.

"I'm sure anytime anyone gets a chance to play with [Toews] they're excited because he's such an easy player to play with. Yeah, it was nice to get the early goal and we were playing against their top line most of the night, too, so you've got to have some responsibility there. But hopefully, as time goes on, if we stay together, we just keep getting better and better."
Here’s a look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks by the numbers:

* The Blues had 17:48 of power-play ice time in the win. They scored once on nine power-play opportunities. They are 1-for-13 on the power play for a 7.7 percentage in the series.

* The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the power play. They are 1-for-10 for a 10.0 percentage in the series. They scored on their first power-play attempt of the series.

* The Blackhawks accumulated a season-high 41 penalty minutes. The Blues had 20.

* Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were each held to one shot attempt. Kane has one goal and seven shots on net in the two games, and Toews has two assists and five shots on goal.

* Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig played a team-low 3:23 of ice time. He played three shifts and a total of 1:23 of ice time after the first period. He compiled 12 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for roughing. Ryan Reaves played a team-low 3:49 for the Blues.

* Blackhawks defensemen accounted for all three goals in the loss. Their defensemen have scored five of their six goals in the two games. Brent Seabrook has two goals, and Michal Rozsival, Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya each have one goal.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Blues 4, Hawks 3 (OT)

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
5:36
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues' 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Saturday.

How it happened: Barret Jackman scored 5:50 into overtime for the game-winner. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko forced overtime by scoring a power-play goal from the top of the right circle with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period. St. Louis had pulled goaltender Ryan Miller off the ice and had a 6-on-4 advantage. The Blues were on the power play from 13:55 of the third period to when Tarasenko scored at 19:53. Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell was called for kneeing at 13:55, and defenseman Brent Seabrook got five minutes for charging and received a game misconduct for a hit he put on David Backes at 15:09. Backes left the game and did not return.

The Blackhawks took a 3-2 lead when Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival's shot deflected off Backes and skidded past Miller at 6:38 of the third period. The Blues had built a 2-0 lead in the first period off goals by Chris Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk. But the Blackhawks started to rally in the second period. Defenseman Duncan Keith scored at 17:25 of the second for their first goal. Seabrook came through with the second goal as he scored from the right circle at 4:53 of the third period.

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 27 saves on 31 shots. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 25-of-28 shots.

What it means: The Blues take a 2-0 series lead and hold onto home-ice advantage. Backes’ health has to be a concern for the Blues going forward. He looked out of sorts after the hit. Seabrook could be looking at a suspension. The Blues have rallied from 3-2 deficits in the third period and won in overtime in both games of the series. They scored with 1:46 remaining in the third period in Game 1 to force overtime and then won it in a third overtime Thursday.

The Blues have been giving the Blackhawks power-play chances, but the Blackhawks haven’t been able to capitalize. They are 1-for-10 on the power play in the series. The Blackhawks went 119:26 without scoring a goal from Patrick Kane's first-period goal in Game 1 to Keith’s second-period goal in Game 2.

Player of the game: Tarasenko provided the clutch goal in the win.

Stat of the game: The Blues had 17:48 of power-play time.

What’s next: The series travels to Chicago for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 will be at the United Center on Monday.

By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
11:18
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ST. LOUIS – Here's a look at the St. Louis Blues' 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday by the numbers:

• After scoring three goals within 7 minutes and 10 seconds in the first period, the Blackhawks didn't score in the game's final 82 minutes and two seconds.

• Blues goaltender Ryan Miller allowed three goals on the Blackhawks' first seven shots on net. He stopped the next 35.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played 40-plus minutes for the third time in his career. He played 40:59 on Thursday. He played 40:12 against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals last season and a career-high 48:40 against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson played a game-high 61 shifts. He also had a game-high six blocked shots.

• The game was the longest in the Blues' history. Their previous longest game lasted 37:07 into overtime against the Detroit Red Wings in 1984.

• The Blues had 103 total shot attempts, including 52 on goal, and the Blackhawks had 84 shot attempts, including 42 on goal.

• The Blues allowed six more power plays due to penalties on Thursday. Their opponents have had 62 power plays over the last 14 games, killing off 53. By comparison, the Blackhawks have allowed 36 power plays in their last 14 games

• Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo led everyone in ice time, playing 44:08.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's 48 saves were a season-high. He set a career-high with 51 saves against the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• The Blackhawks scored one power-play goal on six opportunities. They have scored multiple power-play goals just once in the last 25 games. The last time was against the Blues on March 19. The Blackhawks also had five shots on goal during their power plays on Thursday.

• The Blues had 10 forwards with possession numbers better than 50 percent in 5-on-5 situations, and the Blackhawks had five, according to extraskater.com.

Patrick Sharp is the lone Blackhawks forward to have positive possession numbers in all six games against the Blues this season, according to extraskater.com. He had a 54.2 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 26 shots for and 22 against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations) on Thursday. He hasn't had a Corsi percentage lower than 54 percent against the Blues this season and has a 56.3 Corsi (112 shots for, 87 against) in all six games.

• The Blackhawks won 62-of-109 faceoffs. Jonathan Toews led the Blackhawks by winning 21-of-32 faceoffs. The Blues had five players who won less than 50 percent of their faceoffs.

• The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Porter tied for a game-high seven shots on goal.

• Toews led the Blackhawks' forwards with 32:37 of ice time. He had missed the team's last six games. Patrick Kane, who was out the last 12 games, played 28:31.

• The longest game in Blackhawks' history took 53:50 to decide in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens on April 9, 1931. Thursday's game lasted 40:26 of overtime.

Blues have Blackhawks' number late, again

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
1:18
AM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks experienced the familiar feeling Thursday of almost defeating the St. Louis Blues in the Scottrade Center.

Three times the Blackhawks have been in position in the final period to knock off the Blues in their building this season, and three times the Blues have crushed the Blackhawks’ spirits with late victories.

Thursday’s 4-3, three-overtime loss to the Blues in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series certainly hurt the Blackhawks much more than the previous two.

[+] EnlargeSt. Louis Blues
Mark Buckner/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe above sentiment is becoming more commonplace for the Blues late in games against the Blackhawks at St. Louis.
The Blackhawks led 3-2 for nearly 40 minutes and had the finish line in sight as the game clock was down to the final two minutes of the third period on Thursday. But just as the Blues proved in their two regular-season meetings in St. Louis, their fight wouldn’t cease until game’s end.

The Blues had been the dominant team throughout the third period as the Blackhawks tried to protect their one-goal lead, and with 1:45 remaining in the third period, the Blues were rewarded for their effort. It was then Jaden Schwartz struck the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game at three and ultimately force overtime. The Blues finished the job when Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime.

"They’re pressing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Blues in the third period. "They’re pinching. They’re aggressive. They’re gambling. They had some opportunities there. We almost got through it."

"Almost" is a prevailing feeling for the Blackhawks against the Blues at the Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks almost topped the Blues when they first met in St. Louis this season on Oct. 9, but the Blues scored in the final minute of the third period and won 3-2. When they next met in St. Louis on Dec. 28, the Blackhawks were leading 5-3 in the third period before the Blues rallied with two goals in the final four minutes, forced overtime and won in a shootout.

Quenneville wasn’t oblivious to the similarities.

"We were close to getting it done," Quenneville said. "It was just like the last two games in this building here."

The Blackhawks had some quality opportunities in the third period to extend their lead to two goals. The Blues gave the Blackhawks two power plays in the last 15 minutes, but they didn’t get a single shot on net off either of them. The Blues had 14 shots on goal to the Blackhawks’ six in the third period.

Quenneville played the two power plays in the third period safe by placing two defensemen on each unit in case the Blues created a short-handed chance. He didn’t regret that.

"We’ve done that all year," Quenneville said. "We didn’t change anything on the timing or the score and the situation."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane felt his team might have been holding onto the puck too long and trying to contain the lead too much late in the game.

"Maybe a little bit, for sure, especially the last 5-10 minutes," Kane said. "I know we had a couple power plays where we could have maybe scored, made it 4-2, which would have been nice. It didn’t work out that way.

"We’ll try to get the power play going a little bit better and capitalize on our opportunities there. Definitely would have been nice to get another one and give us a little bit [of] insurance."

The Blackhawks don’t have much time to dwell on their loss. The teams return to the same building for Game 2 at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. Kane believes that might be a good thing.

"It stings right now, obviously," Kane said. "The big thing for us is we got to realize it’s only one game. We obviously got a quick turnaround playing an afternoon game coming up.

"That’s the best part of it; we can get back at it and figure out what we can do better."

Rapid Reaction: Blues 4, Hawks 3 (F/3OT)

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
11:53
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Thursday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks and Blues set the bar high for the remainder of the series. The Blues’ Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime for the win. The Blackhawks looked to have the game secured in regulation. They were leading 3-2 heading into the final two minutes of the third period. Jaden Schwartz saved the Blues by scoring in front of the net with 1:56 remaining in the third period. The Blackhawks had been leading 3-2 since the end of the first period. Patrick Kane broke a 2-2 tie at 18:24 of the first period, when he received a stretch pass from Jonathan Toews and scored on a breakaway. The Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook and the Blues’ Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored first-period goals. The Blackhawks nearly won the game in the first overtime, but Blues forward Maxim Lapierre blocked a Blackhawks’ shot while standing behind goaltender Ryan Miller in the net. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 48 saves on 52 shots. Miller made 39 saves on 42 shots. The Blackhawks failed to score on two overtime power plays, and the Blues squandered one overtime power-play opportunity of their own.

What it means: The Blues went up 1-0 in the series and held onto their home-ice advantage. The Blues have scored a number of clutch third-period goals against the Blackhawks this season. The Blues pulled out a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks by scoring in the final minute of the third period on Oct. 9. The Blues came back from a 5-3 deficit when they scored two goals in the final four minutes of the third period on Dec. 28, then won in the shootout. The Blues’ win on Thursday marked their first victory since April 3.

Both teams benefited in getting some of their top players back. Tarasenko had missed the previous 15 games for the Blues. Kane was out the previous 12 games, and Toews missed six games. The Blackhawks’ top line of Toews, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad was especially effective for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks won 54-of-91 faceoffs.

Player of the game: Steen scored the winning goal.

Stat of the game: Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo played a game-high 44:08 of ice time.

What’s next: The series remains in St. Louis for Game 2, at 2 p.m. CT Saturday.

Kane excited to get back in game

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
3:56
PM CT
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KaneDebora Robinson/Getty ImagesPatrick Kane returns to the ice Thursday after missing 12 games with a knee injury.


ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has missed playing in hockey games.

Kane sat out the final 12 regular-season games while healing from a knee injury he suffered on March 19. He will make his return Thursday in Game 1 of the Blackhawks’ first-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

“I’m excited to play hockey again,” Kane said after the team’s morning skate at the Scottrade Center. “Excited to be in a game situation and play a game. It’s exciting. I’m getting a little anxious to get out there and play. But at the same time I feel good. I feel ready. I feel I’m ready to play hockey again.

“Everyone kind of goes through their certain injuries and different things they have to deal with. It’s something I haven’t been through a lot in my career. But I’m definitely happy it’s over and excited to play.”

(Read full post)

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Blues (Game 1)

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:09
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ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues begin their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Thursday. Here's what to watch for:

• The Blues were beat up in many ways by the end of the regular season. They dropped their last six games and allowed the Colorado Avalanche to surpass them for first place in the Central Division. The Blues were also losing players on a near daily basis. They were without David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Barret Jackman, Brenden Morrow, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko because of injuries in the regular-season finale. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has said he expects all of the players back at some point in the series.

• Tarasenko's return could especially benefit the Blues, who are struggling offensively. He missed the team's past 15 games because of a hand injury. Prior to leaving the lineup, he had produced points in eight of his last nine games, and the Blues went 8-0-1 during that stretch. Since his injury, the Blues went 6-9-0. Goals have been hard to come by for the Blues since losing him -- they were held to fewer than three goals in 12 of the last 15 games. Tarasenko finished the regular season tied for fourth on the team with 21 goals in 64 games.

• The Blackhawks will return two of their top players for Game 1 with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane back in the lineup Thursday night. Toews missed the last six regular-season games because of an upper-body injury, and Kane was out the final 12 games with a lower-body injury. Kane is second on the team with 69 points and Toews is third with 68.

• Both games between the Blackhawks and Blues in St. Louis went down to the wire. The Blues scored in the final minute of the third period to snatch a 3-2 win in their first game Oct. 9. They also had some late heroics Dec. 28 and scored two goals in the first four minutes of the third period to erase a 5-3 deficit. The Blues won 6-5 in a shootout. The Blues went 28-9-4 at home this season.

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• One-goal games are a common sight in the playoffs, and that's an area where the Blues excelled during the regular season. The Blues had a 24-5-7 record and .667 winning percentage, third best in the league, in games decided by one goal. The Blackhawks ranked 27th in the category with a 17-8-15 record and .425 winning percentage. The Blackhawks were 9-2 in one-goal games during the playoffs last season.

• The Blackhawks were the first team to really get to goaltender Ryan Miller since he arrived in St. Louis in a trade in early March. He had a 1.63 goal-against average and .933 save percentage in his first eight games with the Blues and hadn't allowed more than three goals in any of those games. The Blackhawks lit him up for four goals March 19. Beginning with that game and ending in the regular-season finale, he allowed 33 goals and had a .883 save percentage in his last 11 games.

• The Blackhawks' power play and penalty kill are headed in two different directions. They have killed off 57-of-66 penalties for an 86.4 percentage over the last 22 games since returning from the Olympic break. In that same span, they scored eight power-play goals on 67 chances for an 11.9 percentage.

• The Blues allowed their opponents 56 power plays over the past 13 games, killing off 48 of them. The Colorado Avalanche had eight power-play chances against them April 5. By comparison, the Blackhawks allowed 32 power plays over their final 13 games.

Hawks practice as full team, arrange lines

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
3:01
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks did something Tuesday they haven't been able to do for almost a month.

They practiced as a full team. All 15 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders were healthy and participated in the hour-long practice at Johnny's IceHouse West.

Toews
Kane
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews joined his teammates on the ice Tuesday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on March 30. Patrick Kane also participated in his first full team practice since his injury on March 19. He had participated in a team morning skate last week.

"I thought, at least for me being out there the first time, the pace was pretty high -- seems like everyone's excited about what's going to happen here going forward here in the playoffs," Kane said. "It was nice to get out there, skate with the team in a real practice, and even nicer to have one [Wednesday]."

With everyone on the ice, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville unveiled his probable lines to begin the playoffs, and there were some changes.

Quenneville placed Kris Versteeg, Toews and Brandon Saad together on the top line. Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa skated together on the second line. Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Kane comprised the third line. Quenneville stuck with his usual fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.

Sharp, Toews and Hossa played together on a line for a bulk of the season, and Kane was mostly on the second line. Versteeg and Saad have bounced everywhere from the first to third lines this season.

Quenneville said he is looking for balance in the four lines.

"I thought all the lines have comparable ingredients with the ability to score and play without the puck, as well," Quenneville said. "We also had that continuity of at least a couple of guys who are familiar with one another. Whether you revert back or you like the matchup, even in the course of the game, you can always move one or two guys around without really rearranging too much; having that flexibility, and some guys can play both sides and go in the middle, as well. Every game would be different, but right now you like the balance."

Kane has played with Shaw and Bickell before. Kane and Bickell shared a line for much of the playoffs last season and were both essential to the team's Stanley Cup run.

Kane believes that even though Bickell and Shaw are physical players and could give him protection against the St. Louis Blues, they also need to stick to their games.

"To be honest with you, I think playing with them two guys, you want to make sure you're matching their work ethic because they're always going to be working hard," Kane said. "At the same time, we want to play smart, play good defensively, make sure we're not giving anything up.

"Sometimes you go into a series and you think a little too much about the physical play or what's going to happen and it throws you off. I think for us, we've just got to go out there, play hockey the way we know how to play, and not worry about all that other stuff, whether it happens after the whistle or during the play. I think in the past we've maybe gotten caught up in that a little bit."

Quenneville is optimistic that the line of Versteeg, Toews and Saad can be productive for the Blackhawks.

"We feel [Saad is] capable of playing against top guys," Quenneville said. "He's played with Jonny a lot the last couple years. [Versteeg] as well has played in some big situations. We'll see how that all works out -- certainly has the capability of working well together. [Versteeg] did play a little bit with [Toews and Saad] there recently. That line looked pretty good together."

Hawks not feeling lucky to play Blues

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
4:00
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks don't feel like they won the lottery by getting the St. Louis Blues instead of the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Blackhawks ended up with the Blues because St. Louis dropped its last six regular-season games and the Avalanche went 7-1-2 in their final 10 games. The Blues were leading the Avalanche by seven points as of April 7.

[+] EnlargeAlex Pietrangelo, Bryan Bickell
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks lost three of five games against the Blues in the regular season.
"That's what everybody wants to talk about, but we're not going to think that we have an easier team to play against," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said on Monday. "That's definitely not going to be the case. They're a team that loves to play physical against us, and we've got to expect that. There's no reason why we can't return that as well. We'll be ready to bring that type of effort.

"It's going to be a tough game, a tough atmosphere to be a part of, starting out in St. Louis. We'll be ready for it. But I don't think there's any feeling of us facing a team that's not going to give us their best. It's going to take our best to beat them."

The Blackhawks had mixed results against the Blues during the regular season. The Blues defeated the Blackhawks in their first three meetings, with two those of victories coming in a shootout. The Blackhawks got the better of the Blues in their final two games.

The Blues do have home-ice advantage on the Blackhawks, and that could be a factor in the series. The Blues won both games in St. Louis this season. They scored a goal in the final minute of the third period to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Oct. 9, and they rallied from a 5-3 deficit to score two goals in the final four minutes of the third period to force overtime and win 6-5 in a shootout on Dec. 28.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put the emphasis on stealing home-ice advantage in Game 1 on Thursday.

"Game 1 is the objective," Quenneville said. "There were a couple of tough games in their building where it looked like we were getting something out of the games -- tough losses both nights. At the same time, we did a lot of good things in both those games. It's a big Game 1. Let's be excited about it."

The Blackhawks are aiming for a stronger start to this season's playoffs than they put forward in the opening round last season. The Blackhawks were disappointed with their early play against the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference quarterfinals last season, winning the first game 2-1 in overtime and winning the series in five games.

"I would say we had an ordinary start last year in the Minnesota series," Quenneville said. "I think we've got to be ready to be hitting the ground running against this team. We had a terrific regular season last year and it seems like playoffs were the same pace. We've got to expect this is going to be a different pace."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane expects the Blues to be physical, but he believes it is important for the Blackhawks to stick to their style of game. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues in their past two games by dominating the puck. The Blackhawks had a 53.6 Corsi percentage (52 shots for, 45 shots against) in their 4-0 win over the Blues on March 19 and a 61.2 Corsi (60 shots for, 38 against) in a 4-2 win on April 6.

"I don't know if that's the kind of team we are [being physical]," Kane said. "I think there's not many games throughout the year, maybe a handful if that, where we're outhitting a team. And that's because we're a team that likes to play with the puck, have puck possession and create that way.

"I think the most important thing is to try to play our game and try not to be anyone else. We're not going to try to go up against them and try to play like the St. Louis Blues or the L.A. Kings. That's not the way we play around here. Obviously we want to be physical when we get a chance, especially on their top guys. And play hard. If we meet it, great, but the most important thing is to try and score more goals than them."

Toews, Kane 'looked good', but skip trip

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
12:40
PM CT
By Benjamin Standig
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Jonathan ToewsCal Sport Media/AP ImagesJonathan Toews remains on track to return from an upper-body injury in time for the playoffs.


WASHINGTON -- The postseason is rapidly approaching. Good thing injured captain Jonathan Toews is back on the ice.

Out since suffering an upper-body injury on March 30 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toews skated in Chicago on Thursday along with forward Patrick Kane (knee).

“He skated yesterday, skated very well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday of Toews, Chicago's third-leading scorer with 68 points. "Looked good. As did [Patrick Kane]."

Neither player made the trip to Washington for Friday night's matchup with the Capitals, the penultimate game of the regular season. With the Blackhawks locked into the third seed in the Central division, there is no need to rush.

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Oduya expected back vs. Canadiens

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
12:54
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya is expected to play against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday after missing the past three games with a lower-body injury, coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday.

Oduya
Quenneville also said forward Patrick Kane could begin practicing with the team on Wednesday. Kane, who has been skating by himself since Friday, has missed the past nine games with a lower-body injury. He is expected to return for the playoffs.

Further, Quenneville said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is expected to begin skating alone this week. He's been out since suffering an upper-body injury on March 30. He is also expected back for the playoffs.

Oduya, who last played in a game on March 30, practiced with the team at the United Center on Wednesday. He has three goals, 12 assists and a plus-9 rating in 74 games this season.

Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank replaced Oduya the past three games. In the three games, Brookbank had zero points and a zero rating and averaged 21:05 of ice time.

Oduya was not made available to the media after practice on Wednesday.

Hawks continue winning ways

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
5:14
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- No Patrick Kane. No Jonathan Toews. No problem.

The Chicago Blackhawks are not only winning without Kane and Toews, who are both out until the playoffs, but are also succeeding at another level than when the two injured stars were in the lineup in recent months.

The Blackhawks are riding their first three-game winning streak since December after defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-2 at the United Center on Sunday. The Blackhawks improved to 3-0-0 without Kane and Toews.

The Blackhawks returned Sunday to the formula they used to take down the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. The Blackhawks limited the Blues’ quality chances. The Blackhawks focused on the offensive basics, especially getting players to the net. Players stepped up across the board.

“I thought three games in a row we played the exact same way,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Played the right way, worked hard, very effective, efficient. Everybody contributed and scored some ugly goals. Played the right way to get rewarded.”

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Kane, Toews on the mend for Hawks

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
11:12
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have returned one of their two injured stars to the ice, and the other isn’t too far behind.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane skated for the second and third times on Saturday and Sunday since suffering a lower-body injury on March 19, according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Kane began skating again on Friday.

“[He skated today] and yesterday, and he did very well,” Quenneville said prior to playing the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

Kane has missed eight games due to the injury and will be out the team’s remaining four regular-season games. He is expected to return for the playoffs.

Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews might be joining Kane on the ice soon. Quenneville said Toews could begin skating later this week for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on March 30. Toews has missed two games due to the injury and will also be out for the remainder of the regular season. He is expected to be back for the playoffs.

“We’re in no hurry,” Quenneville said of Toews. “We want to give him a break. I would say towards later in the week [he will skate.]”

The Blackhawks are 2-0-0 without Kane and Toews this season. The Blackhawks had been without the two players in the same game only once in the last seven seasons prior to this season. Kane is second on the team with 69 points and Toews is third with 68 points this season.

Hawks enter unknown minus Kane, Toews

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
1:12
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the same game just once in their seven seasons together.

The second time will come on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks have only been without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews once the past seven seasons.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville announced Wednesday that Toews has been shut down for the final six regular-season games after he suffered an upper-body injury on Sunday. Kane's regular season ended when he was placed on the long-term injured reserve following a lower-body injury against the St. Louis Blues on March 19.

In six games without Kane, the Blackhawks have missed his offense and how he allows them to be a deeper team across all four lines. The Blackhawks went 2-4 during that stretch and were outscored 14-5 in 5-on-5 situations.

Now without Toews also, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville understands his team has to play differently to be successful.

"Obviously, we missed Kaner on that trip there, but now without Jonny and him at the same time, offensively, there's a [difference]," Quenneville said prior to playing the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. "I think that's why we're looking to play a tight, simple game, and I don't think you have quite the skill across the board and those guys usually enhance their linemates and their lines. So it's a situation where we have to make sure we play the right way. We've got to play hard, we've got to play simple, and look to play tight."

The only other time the Blackhawks were without Kane and Toews, the game was meaningless. They were both healthy scratches in the final game of the 2012-13 season because the Blackhawks had already clinched the Presidents' Trophy.

This time, the game is important. The Blackhawks are still hoping to push the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The Avalanche lead the Blackhawks by three points and have a game in hand.

Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who will replace Toews on the top line, is confident they can still win without Kane and Toews.

"I think the team has the character and determination we need," Shaw said. "We're just going to go out there, work hard and compete. We're pushing for that home-ice advantage in the first round."

The stars' absence leaves the Blackhawks without their second and third points leaders. Kane has 69 points on the season and Toews has 68. Patrick Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks with 73 points, believes it's important to not attempt to single-handedly make up for the missing offense.

"I'm not really going to change much," Sharp said. "I'm going to do what I did all season long. I'm not going to try to take anything else on. I'm going to play the game I've played from start to finish and hopefully continue to have success that way."

The Blackhawks won't be a complete team again until the playoffs, when Kane and Toews are expected to return, but Quenneville expects them to snap out of their funk before then. They have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.

"We want to turn it on right now," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure we're not going to rely on that going into the last game or going into the playoffs. All of a sudden, we got to reignite our team game. That's why we want to make sure we're doing the right things within games and play the right way.

"You've got to bring passion. You've got to bring intensity. And you have to bring meaning to every shift. That's what the playoffs are all about. But don't expect to just do it come Game 83."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26