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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling's regulation shutout streak.

Darling had two shutouts in his first 44 starts of his NHL career, and nearly matched that total in back-to-back games after he pitched a 22-save shutout over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday and stopped 36 straight shots before allowing the 37th one to get by in a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. While his shutout streak came to an end, he still hasn't allowed a regulation goal in 124:45 minutes. The Lemont native has been terrific in Corey Crawford's absence and will look to continue that against a divisional opponent tonight.

2. Shoot from everywhere.

The Stars have allowed the most goals of any team (93) this season, giving up 3.21 goals per game. They allowed 2.78 goals per game last year, which was the highest among all 16 playoff teams. Their defense has gotten worse, and their offense has dipped to 18th at 2.55 goals per game after finishing No. 1 in that category a year ago at 3.23. Shoot from any angle and it may find a way to sneak in.

3. Redemption on the power play.

In the first two meetings, which resulted in Chicago wins, the Blackhawks had 10 power-play opportunities but cashed in on only one of those. The Stars are coming off a game where they allowed three goals on the man advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday and have a penalty kill percentage that ranks fourth-worst at 76.7. They've also given up at least a power-play goal in seven of their last 10 games. It's a vulnerable area for them right now — and has been all year — so it's important the Blackhawks keep pressing.

4. Questionable statuses for several Stars.

After missing 23 games with an undisclosed illness, Jiri Hudler was activated off injured reserve on Friday but did not play in yesterday's game against the Flyers despite coach Lindy Ruff saying he was available. He could draw back into the lineup tonight, although it's not certain. Same with Johnny Oduya, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jamie Oleksiak will also have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on a Flyers forward yesterday, making his status for tonight questionable. Former Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, who missed the first two games against his former team with a concussion, is experiencing those symptoms again and remains out of the lineup.

5. Take a lead into the third.

The Blackhawks are 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, and are one of just five teams to have a perfect winning percentage in that category. The Stars, on the other hand, are one of five teams that have yet to pick up a win when trailing after two. They're 0-10-2 in that department. Taking advantage of the Stars on the second of a back-to-back early could make putting them away easier if the Blackhawks head into the final frame with a lead.

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Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, former AHL and NHL coach and father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 84.

Kevin Dineen was not at the Blackhawks’ practice on Saturday. Coach Joel Quenneville called Bill Dineen “a tremendous man.”

“Everyone who had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy. He was probably one of the most liked people you’d ever want to meet. Great family man; the kids are just like the dad,” Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice. “We had a good time with him on the dad’s trip last time. Seeing him at that stage and being around hockey again, it was fun to be there.”

Bill Dineen played for the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. He later was a head coach, mostly in the AHL. He was named the AHL’s outstanding coach twice and led the Adirondack Red Wings to the Calder Cup in 1986 and 1989. He also had an NHL coaching stint with the Philadelphia Flyers from 1992 to 1993, during which he coached Kevin.

AHL president David Andrews released a statement regarding Dineen’s passing.

“During his time as a player and coach, and in the values he instilled in his family, Bill Dineen created a legacy of greatness in the American Hockey League that still resonates today. Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Dineen family at this time.”