Kane stepping up as leader in Toews' absence

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Kane stepping up as leader in Toews' absence

Patrick Kane heard the word bandied about with his name the past few weeks: leadership. With captain Jonathan Toews out, the Blackhawks have needed more of that from their core players.

And Kane, especially with his play, has provided plenty of it lately.

Back at center, Kane has provided a boost to the Blackhawks in winning three of their last four games. And as far as all that leadership talk? He likes it.

It feels good when you hear people say that, he said. I view myself as a leader of the team, for sure, but Im not going to change who I am. Im sure as time goes on Ill become more of a leader, but Im still a young guy and still learning a lot.

Yes, at 23 Kane is a young guy. But since hes been a pro for so long it doesnt always seem that way.

Every year I feel I become more of a leader, maybe playing more of a team game, who knows, Kane said. Sometimes you do different things and try to get people to follow you on the ice and maybe thats where the leadership is coming in.

Coach Joel Quenneville said most of that leadership is coming through in Kanes play. Outside of Tuesdays game against St. Louis, when everyone in a Blackhawks uniform struggled, the top line has been solid.

Teammates have noticed.

On the ice, hes doing a lot. Hes playing center, which I know is a challenge for him, and hes doing really well at it, Patrick Sharp said. Hes responsible in defensive zone and thats important with a guy like Johnny out of the lineup.

Kane started the season at center and is fine with being there right now. But theres no doubt what he truly feels his position is.

I still call myself a winger, to be honest," he said. "But right now they wanted to fill the void and they put me at center. I feel pretty comfortable getting the puck. Its fun to come up the ice with a lot of speed, thats where my game comes in, but I can still do that on the wing. Right now they just want to put me at center with Johnny out of the lineup.

Perhaps, but thats part of leadership, too: filling voids, taking the reins, stepping out of a comfort zone if its for the better of the team.

The Blackhawks got encouraging news on Thursday, when Toews skated before his teammates at Johnnys Ice House. If Toews strings together some solid, feel-good-after skates, he could be back soon. But in that time, Kane deserves credit for playing a bigger leadership role with the Blackhawks.

Im not rah-rah-rah or anything, Kane said. Im just having fun, getting excited and trying to do my thing on the ice.

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.