With Jonathan Toews out, Patrick Kane knows he needs to step up
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com February 24, 2012 8:12PM
Hawks winger Patrick Kane skates by Dallas goalie Richard Bachman looking for a scoring chance in the third period of the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 loss to the the Dallas Stars Thursday February 23, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
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Updated: March 26, 2012 8:11AM
Patrick Kane is just like everyone else. He doesn’t know when center Jonathan Toews will be ready to return.
“I’m not really sure how long he will be out,” Kane said. “I know they are saying day-to-day, so hopefully that’s all it is.”
Toews, who may have been suffering from concussion symptoms before getting in a car accident on Thursday, didn’t travel with the Hawks to California on Friday. So he’ll at least miss the next two games against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
As tough as it is not having him in the lineup, giving Toews all the time he needs to recover should be the course of action. The Hawks can’t risk having one of the NHL’s best players experience a setback because of an early return. The Central Division title is out of reach and the playoffs are still over a month away and that’s when the former Conn Smythe winner truly will be needed.
In other words, that probably means more time at center for Kane.
“For me, I’ll probably try to play the same way,” Kane said. “It’s a little bit different. The biggest difference is I probably get the puck in the middle with more speed and get to wind it up a little bit too.
“But you’ve got to be responsible defensively [and] you’ve got to win your face-offs. ... Overall, it’s not a bad position to play. You get the puck a lot. You get to make plays too.”
Just like when they were without Kane, Patrick Sharp or Marian Hossa, the Hawks lineup takes a considerable hit without Toews. The Hawks have scored just three goals over the past two games without him. They are averaging just over three per game this season.
Coach Joel Quenneville has opted to load up his top line with Sharp, Kane and Hossa the past two games although he split them up by the third period against the Dallas Stars Thursday.
“They’re fun players to play with,” Kane said. “Two shooters. You try to give them the puck in good areas to get shots on net and get to the net myself too.”
Quenneville prefers to still use Sharp at wing, but he’s been used to take faceoffs over Kane. Sharp has taken 32 draws, winning 16 of them, the past two games. Kane has gone 0-for-8.
“It was a little bit different when he was taking the faceoffs and then I try to get down low,” Kane said. “Some times it’s kind of a pain to switch it up.
‘‘But we can talk pretty well out there. [Sharp] is good at that, where he yells at you when he wants to switch and different things like that. And I’ll do same to him.”
Kane has had chances offensively and has played well in the Hawks’ own zone. But he knows his line with Sharp and Hossa have to reach another level with Toews out.
“Obviously, some guys are going to have to step up like myself and try to do a little bit more and a little bit extra,” Kane said. “He’s definitely a huge part of the lineup and a guy you miss. It seems like when he goes out, the lineup gets depleted a little bit. But it’s a good chance for other players to step up.”
INJURY NOTES: Defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador also didn’t travel to California because of upper-body injuries.
Hjalmarsson played Thursday after missing seven games in a row with concussion symptoms. He logged 16:06 of ice time. Quenneville said Hjalmarsson “was fine [and] steady” afterward.
Marian Hossa said he was OK after blocking a hard shot by Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray.