Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

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Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 6:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Patrick Kane sported a shiner around his right eye, one of several colorful souvenirs he probably has after getting knocked around pretty well by the very physical Vancouver Canucks.

So might it be a good idea for the Chicago Blackhawks to get another guy who can give some of that back?

Yeah, I think so, Kane said. Going forward that would be nice to have.

The Blackhawks wont go through a big roster overhaul again this summer. They wont be facing the money crunch that demanded it last summer. But they do need to acquire some grit and mettle again to let the opposition know the Blackhawks are not going to stand for their stars getting beaten up.

See, as much as getting rid of a lot of guys last summer, it was getting rid of the same type of guys that hurt. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager they muscled their ways into tough areas, crashed nets, won puck battles and defended teammates against physical opponents. They were the abrasive grease that helped the sleek Blackhawks machine and its skill guys running at top speed.

Much of that was gone this season, or at least it wasnt there on a consistent basis. Hats off to guys like Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik taking it upon themselves to throw a few licks out there, despite it not really being part of their game. But so many of the Blackhawks skill players had to do it all: get pucks, score and most of all, defend themselves against opponents who were trying to erase them.

I think there's something to that extent. Whether it's team toughness or across the board, we need to be tougher to play against, coach Joel Quenneville said. Whether we address personnel, that's an area we like to make sure we're definitely harder to play against.

Jonathan Toews said that for guys like him and Kane, a summer like this is good to mature physically and be able to play that style more. Sure they could do that, but they have enough on their plates. Just go out and get another guy who can take the physical pressure off the guys who were expected to carry this team to the postseason late in the game.

The Blackhawks put up the good fight against the bruising Canucks and were one goal away from taking a trip to the second round in San Jose. Their top players took their knocks this season in the process and were still getting battered in Game 7. Acquiring a guy who can get in someones face and keep Kanes safe when that happens could be just what the Blackhawks need to get back to long postseasons.

It's always nice to have someone who can fight and be a force on the ice who can also play, Kane said. We had guys who could do it this year, guys like (Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer). (John) Scott had a good presence in the series. But it would be nice to get someone, for sure.

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 host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 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. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

TSN coaches poll: Wild favored to win West over Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have eliminated the Minnesota Wild from the playoffs three times from 2013-15.

But it's the Wild that NHL coaches believe will win the Western Conference this season as we approach the trade deadline.

In his annual midseason poll, TSN's Bob McKenzie surveyed 25 of 30 coaches to vote on multiple categories, such as the league's best player and the team most likely to win it all.

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According to the survey, 11 coaches predicted the Wild will win the West while the Blackhawks and Sharks tied for second with four votes.

As for winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals are the favorite, earning 10 votes, followed closely by the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins with eight. The Wild and Blackhawks rounded out the poll with three and two votes, respectively.

Joel Quenneville earned one vote as the NHL's best coach, which is three fewer votes than he had last year, despite this year being arguably his most challenging — and best — coaching job since arriving in Chicago, given the youth on the roster.