Kane comfortable with switch to center

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Kane comfortable with switch to center

Patrick Kane said he enjoyed playing center this season, felt comfortable with it and played some of his best games there.

Thats good, because it sounds like the Blackhawks are figuring hes their No. 2 center moving forward.

The question of the Blackhawks needing a No. 2 center was asked quite a bit this season. But general manager Stan Bowman believes the team already has that in Kane. And he said that Kanes play there, either at No. 2 or at No. 1 when Jonathan Toews was absent, was a big reason why the Blackhawks got into the playoffs this season.

He carried our team the last month of the season, put us on his back and got us into the playoffs, Bowman said of Kane. We had tough times, we had gone through prolonged losing streak, the pressure was on and he stepped up to be our No. 1 center. The notion he cant play center or isnt good there has been dispelled. Not only did our team play well, he played well.

Coach Joel Quenneville announced it during a preseason game in Detroit that they would try Kane at center entering this season, and it was a surprise to hear. But theres no doubt that Kane handled the pressure of the position well. He and Marian Hossa built up good chemistry on a line together, and Kane had 24 points in his first 25 games at center.

So if hes back there again next season, and it certainly sounds like he will be, hes fine with that.

I come up the ice with a lot of speed in the middle, and its natural for me to do that anyway, Kane said today. When I was at wing I played like a center anyway, come back to get the puck and get up ice. Sometimes its exciting to play new positions, so it doesnt matter to me. When you look at this year, when the team was successful, I was at center.

So Kane will probably prepare for center, which will be a bit different than all the seasons he prepped for wing. Faceoffs were an issue Kane was around 42 percent this season. And Kane said he needs to get stronger overall.

Yeah, playing center obviously youre down low more, so I want to get stronger there. But it doesnt change much, Kane said. The biggest thing for me is, Im healthy going into this offseason. There are no problems; Im going right in and working on my body. Last summer I had surgery (on my wrist) and other problems. Now Im excited about just being healthy.

And the Blackhawks are apparently set in moving forward with Kane at center. Hes proven he can do it. Whether or not hes the full-time answer there is still the question.

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

Honda Road Ahead: Can Cubs slow down Nationals bats?

CSN's David Kaplan and David DeJesus discuss the upcoming matchups in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

Maybe a four-game series with the N.L. East-leading Washington Nationals will help the Cubs take off. 

It did last year. 

The Cubs swept the Nats early last season, boosting themselves into first place in the National League - a position they wouldn't relinquish. More than a sweep, though, a positive series is vital for a team that continues to hover around .500. 

To do so, Joe Maddon's pitchers must somehow slow the Nationals offense, which has managed to push across more runs than any team in the majors. 

After D.C., the Cubs are off to Cincy for a three-game set with the Reds. 

Watch David Kaplan and David DeJesus preview the upcoming matchups in the video above.