Patrick Kane is already in midseason form in the stitches-to-the-lip department.
The Blackhawks forward hopes his time spent in Switzerland – despite the elbow to the face he absorbed in his final game with HC Biel – will mean his skills will be at a similarly high level when the Blackhawks’ lockout-shortened NHL season kicks off Jan. 19 against the Kings in Los Angeles.
“It’s going to be big for me,” Kane said Thursday after an informal practice with teammates at Johnny’s IceHouse West in Chicago. “Before I came back, I played eight games in 10 days or something like that – at one point it was five in 5 nights. It was really good for my conditioning and skating.
“I’m happy I did it, it was a good experience, and hopefully it helps me during the season.”
Kane had 13 goals and 10 assists in 20 games with Biel, and also participated in the Spengler Cup for HC Davos. That experience, obviously, is quite a bit more than those players who did not go overseas during the 113-day lockout, and that could mean a fast start for Kane, who had 23 goals and 43 assists in 82 games for the Hawks last season.
“I’ve always prided myself on getting off to a quick start, personally, pretty much every season,” Kane said.
The offensive-minded Kane could benefit early from some ragged hockey defensively as teams find their footing after truncated training camps that likely will begin Sunday across the league.
“To start, maybe it will be a little bit more wide open because guys aren’t familiar with systems ... and have been away from the game for so long,” Kane said. “As time goes on, it’s definitely going to get very intense because of the short season, and we pretty much start a playoff race right away.”
The 24-year-old is usually a goal-setter, but this time around, he’s just determined to maintain a strong work ethic and let the points come as they may.
“I don’t want to limit myself to where I can go,” Kane said. “Just stay focused is the biggest thing, and try to be the hardest worker out there.”
As for the lip, Kane said his visor cut him after he took an elbow last Saturday.
“It was pretty painful,” he said. “I was kind of nervous about the doctors, how they were going to do the stitching on my face, but I checked in [Chicago] and they said they did a good job.”