Hiatus helps Kane, Hossa get near 100 percent

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Hiatus helps Kane, Hossa get near 100 percent

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011
2:36 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Patrick Kane was moving around the ice much like the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks were on Friday morning: quick, spirited, with plenty of pace.

The Blackhawks used this five-day hiatus to rest, regroup and get their legs back. That goes double for Kane, whos still working back from left ankle injury he sustained on Dec. 5 against Calgary. And while hes still not 100 percent, Kane is feeling good and ready for this weekends games against up-tempo Detroit and Philadelphia.

Ive been doing some different things with it and it feels pretty good on the ice, said Kane. Just doing exercises, (working on) a lot of different machines. Obviously practice is different than game action. Its a little bit away to get 100 percent but Im happy with the progress.

It was a good break for Kane. Quenneville said the break also helped Marian Hossa, who suffered upper and lower-body injuries in the first half, and both he and Kane were looking ready to go.

I would say (the break) can only help, Quenneville said. (Kane) went into the break on a high note, hes played well the last few games. Hossas coming around as well.

Quenneville said the rests effect on the team was evident these past two practices, which the coach said could be the Blackhawks best this season.

Pace. Yesterdays pace was excellent as well, Quenneville said. Theres crispness with the puck, good speed and energy. The thing we stressed recently is the pace of our team game, and we reinforced with practice.

The Blackhawks will get plenty of pace from Detroit and Philadephia this weekend. Kane said hes especially looking forward to tempo likely coming this weekend to get a good idea of where his game is.

Nashville was a different opponent; you sit back with that patient game. These next two will be more my style, up-tempo, fast, and hopefully that helps for me, Kane said. You always want to play better and keep getting better. I think Im heading in the right direction so thats good.

The Blackhawks are back to business on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend will truly let them know how much the rest and pace-filled practices helped.

The freshness and crispness, everybody looks 100 percent or as close as youre going to get right now, Quenneville said. So lets take advantage of it.

Wheres the puck

With the Flyers coming back to Chicago for the first time since the Stanley Cup Finals, the once-burning question returns: what happened to that Cup-winning puck?

I havent heard much about it lately, Kane said. It was a big question at the beginning of the year. I know some restaurants in Chicago putting up big money for it. From what I heard, it never showed up.

Briefly

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks on Saturday.

The Red Wings signed Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year deal on Thursday. But the former San Jose goaltender has to clear waivers, where he was placed at noon EST on Friday, before joining Detroit.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: What's the cause of recent struggles?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the latest slump and how much does Artem Anisimov's injury play a role in their struggles?

Konroyd tells us he was surprised by Ryan Hartman's benching in Tampa.

The guys play the game, playoff minutes or press box minutes?  They run through the players who are on the bubble when it comes to postseason play.

They also discuss the Hawks chances of overtaking Washington for the President's trophy.

Plus, Konroyd breaks down possible first round opponents: St Louis, Calgary and Nashville.

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

Tanner Kero latest to try and fill Artem Anisimov's skates

PITTSBURGH – Tanner Kero's been thrown into a lot of different situations in his time with the Blackhawks, be it third- or fourth-line center or penalty kill.

But with Artem Anisimov out, the second-line center spot has become new top-line, left-wing spot: The Blackhawks will keep trying guys out until they find one that works. Kero's the latest to get that opportunity, and since it worked well on Monday, he'll be there again on Wednesday.

Kero will center Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane again when the Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The line had a good start to Monday's game against the Lightning in Tampa, scoring the team's first two goals — Kero assisted on Panarin's opener.

Coach Joel Quenneville liked Kero's first go-around there.

"Defensively he's in a good spot — he's usually in a reliable spot in his own end — he made a couple of nice plays offensively and didn't change his game too much," Quenneville said. "It's not easy playing with guys at that next level. It's certainly a great challenge and a great opportunity, so I thought he did a great job, took advantage of it. We'll see how he does going forward but we'll keep him in there for [Wednesday's] game and that gives us some more options."

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Learning on the fly can be part of a rookie season, especially when injuries arise. Jonathan Toews said Kero's handled everything well this season.

"Come to think of it, it's one of those little things that maybe goes over my head but he's definitely one of those versatile players who's as consistent as ever," Toews said. "He has, for his age, an incredible level of maturity and he carries that with him wherever he goes. You're seeing offensive improvement, too. He was making some good plays with Bread Man and Kaner. He's showing he can do it all and I think his work ethic and attitude's a source of that success."

Earlier this season Kero was with guys like Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza. They were all familiar with each other from their Rockford days, and that showed. Playing with two guys you don't know so well? It's a bit of a challenge, and one the three talk out. But ultimately, Kero said you have to rely on your instincts. 

"You go over things before the game and on the bench, get a feel for what you might want to do. But then you just have to play hockey," Kero said. "You have to trust your game, make plays. You know they're going to make plays with the puck so you try to use your speed and get open and try to go to the net, create space for them and a little traffic in front and try to capitalize on opportunities."

Anisimov will be out another 1-2 weeks. Asked if Anisimov has started skating back in Chicago yet, Quenneville said, "I don't think so but I'm not positive. But he's progressing." Filling Anisimov's skates isn't easy, as evidenced by the Blackhawks' search for his temporary replacement. Kero is the third guy to get that shot, and he took advantage of his first showing.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity to play with two great players," Kero said. "You just try to do everything you can and do the little things right."

Briefly

- Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith didn't practice on Tuesday but both are expected to play against the Penguins.

- Corey Crawford gets the start against Pittsburgh.

- Hartman, scratched after a rough game against the Florida Panthers, is probably back in against the Penguins.