Today marks a week since our beloved Chicago Blackhawks lost their top scorer Patrick Kane to injury during their shutdown 4-0 victory against the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues in what was arguably their best game of the season. During this first week of Kaner’s predicted three-week absence, the Hawks have posted a record of 2-1 against relatively speaking lower-tier teams. Certainly nothing to complain about, but the road ahead contains much tougher challenges for the Hawks: three road games, two of which are against Eastern Conference-leading teams; the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Hawks taking on these squads lacking the most potent weapon in their arsenal is certainly enough to make any Blackhawks fan cringe. However, I propose that Kane’s absence has the potential of yielding some very beneficial byproducts in the immediate and near future, and especially in the playoffs. Here are three reasons how the Blackhawks as a whole can and should benefit from Patrick Kane’s injury hiatus:
#3 – Rest and Resurgence
Let’s face it, the Western Conference playoffs are going to be brutal. Unlike their Eastern Conference counterparts, no team in the West is exactly running away with their respective division. Both the Central and Pacific Divisions are embroiled in three-way dog fights for the top spots in the standing; fights that will certainly spill over into the post-season. That being said, the Blackhawks top-scorer missing the viciousness that will be the final weeks of the regular season in the NHL is certainly a mixed blessing. Think of it this way: the Blackhawks will have their top-scorer back for the playoffs fresher and more rejuvenated than any of his counterparts. Sounds like a nice advantage to me. Now some people are worried that Kane will come back rusty in the playoffs, but if you’ll recall last year, Kaner didn’t really start making his presence felt till about halfway through the post-season, and that’s after playing the whole season healthy. Yet in the end he still skated away with the Conn Smythe trophy, so that speculation is certainly up for debate. Furthermore, Kane’s return on the eve of the playoffs will serve as a much needed spark for the Blackhawks heading into the post season. Remember how much Dave Bolland’s return from injury during the Hawks’ 2010-2011 first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks boosted the team’s morale and gameplay? That was Dave Bolland. Imagine the surge Kaner will ignite when he steps back on the ice…