- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane has noticed he plays his best hockey when he plays nearly nonstop, which is why he was optimistic Thursday after returning from Switzerland to join his teammates.
"I felt like I was just kind of waiting around and waiting for hockey to start," Kane said of his decision to play in Europe. "I realize that when I was playing my best hockey, I was playing a lot of hockey. I figure I might as well go over there and try to get a head start to the season. Maybe when the season started back up, maybe I had an advantage. That was the only reason, to be honest with you."
Kane scored 13 goals and had 10 assists in 20 games for EHC Biel in the National League A. He's hoping to use the experience as momentum for his NHL season. He joined 20 Blackhawks teammates in an informal hour-plus practice at Johnny's IceHouse West on Thursday.
"I think it's going to be great for me," Kane said. "Before I came back, I played eight games in 10 days or something like that. At one point, it was five in five nights. It was really good for my conditioning and skating and everything.
"You're playing on bigger ice, so obviously the game is going to be a little bit different over here, but for all of us there will be a little adjustment period. I'm happy I did it. It was a good experience and hopefully it helps me this season."
Being overseas also may have helped him off the ice. When asked if he was glad to get away after the attention he received last spring due to photos of him partying in Madison, Wis., Kane said he's moved on.
"It's in the past for me," Kane said. "I'm not worried about that. I'm a different person now, and I've changed a lot."
What Kane hopes doesn't change is his ability to have a hot start to the season. He had six points in the first five games last season, six points in the first six games in 2010, and seven points in the first five games in 2009.
"I've always prided myself on getting off to a quick start personally pretty much every season," Kane said. "Every year, I've had some success doing that. Just more of the same of trying to get off to a quick start and continue through the year."
Where Kane would like to see more success for himself and his teammates is on the power play. The Blackhawks ranked 26th in the league last season with a 15.2 power-play percentage. They scored 42 goals on 277 opportunities.
"It's a huge part of our offense, and obviously last year it wasn't very good," Kane said. "It's probably one of the reasons we didn't do as well throughout our season. It's something we'll have to fix a little bit.
"Just watching film from a couple of years ago, you can really see how much we moved, not only the puck but also our feet. All five of our players were always moving. That's one of the biggest things. As long as every player can stay dangerous, you're going to have success on the power play. That's the biggest thing for this year -- just keep moving, and we have enough talent where plays will be made."
12dScott Burnside and Craig Custance