Patrick Kane confident in new — and slumping — linemate Bryan Bickell
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 11, 2014 8:58PM
Montreal Canadiens' Lars Eller is tripped by Chicago Blackhawks' Michal Handzus during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)
The facts: 6 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: February 13, 2014 7:04AM
MONTREAL — Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday that he hoped that Patrick Kane could help break new linemate Bryan Bickell out of his prolonged slump.
But don’t look for Kane to force anything or try to intentionally bank a shot off Bickell just to give him some confidence.
“I’m just going to go out there and play hockey,” Kane said before Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. “We were successful in the past playing with each other, just by him getting to the net and playing like he was in the playoffs. He knows how to play. I don’t have to worry about trying to snap him out of his slump, He’ll be fine.”
It was another new line combination for Kane, as Bickell and Marcus Kruger joined him. Kane insisted the revolving door didn’t bother him. After all, Kane regularly gets extra shifts on various lines, anyway.
“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. It’s exciting to play with different players,” he said. “There could be games where I play with pretty much every line and every forward on the team. So sometimes it’s good to switch it up and get excited about certain shifts.”
There has been a lot of speculation about who will captain Team Canada. Quenneville was asked if he expected Jonathan Toews to wear a letter — a “C” or an “A” — on his sweater in Sochi.
“I would say very likely — either one,” Quenneville said. “It’s not going to change how he’s going to play. We know that we’re fortunate that we have the right guy leading our team.”
Thanks to a seven-game winning streak (which ended Friday night), the St. Louis Blues entered Saturday’s action tied with the Hawks for first place in the Central Division, with two games in hand. The Hawks have been in or tied for first every day since Nov. 8.
“You definitely see it when they throw up seven straight wins,” Ben Smith said “That’s something you can’t ignore.”
Said Handzus: “It’s going to be a dogfight.”