James O'Brien

Patrick Kane
AP

Blackhawks GM says Kane is ‘absolutely’ part of team’s long-term plans

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Despite leading the NHL in scoring, there were some who wondered if Patrick Kane‘s legal troubles would be too toxic for the Chicago Blackhawks.

You can probably put those rumors to bed now, as the Chicago Tribune reports.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, going on the record about the winger for the first time since prosecutors declined to charge Kane regarding a rape investigation.

The message: Kane is “absolutely” a part of the team’s long-term plans.

“You can’t find talent like that,” Bowman said, according to the Tribune. “You look at what he’s done over the course of his career, whether it’s this season, last season … he’s been a game changer. He’s one of those guys that’s, I’ve said it a lot over the years, he’s able to elevate his game in pressure moments. Not too many guys are able to do that.”

Bowman didn’t discuss Kane’s behavior off the ice, however.

Whatever fans – of the NHL in general and Blackhawks specifically – might feel about the situation, it seems clear that Kane will be a fixture in Chicago.

Rick Nash’s hat trick bests Jaromir Jagr’s late heroics

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Alain Vigneault wasn’t happy with the New York Rangers despite their win, but to some extent, isn’t that the old tactic of a coach being grim during winning streaks and supportive in lesser times?

Either way, Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello made the ultimate difference in New York’s 5-4 overtime win against the Florida Panthers.

That said, Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov deserve credit for securing a standings point for the Florida Panthers.

You can see Nash’s hat trick (including the overtime-winner) in the video above.

Jagr and Barkov accomplished some nice feats in their own right, so perhaps the full highlights are your best bet?

Bolts breakthrough? Bishop doesn’t want to ‘jinx’ it

Ben Bishop, Braydon Coburn
AP
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This time around, the Tampa Bay Lightning seem like they’re being cautious about calling for the return of their swag.

It’s easy to see why it would be tempting to forecast the return of the team that impressed on its way to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

The Lightning downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-0 on Saturday, and it was the type of win that the Bolts have likely been craving.

Ben Bishop got a shutout, and he did it on his birthday to boot.

Steven Stamkos was dominant, scoring two goals and one assist. Nikita Kucherov had a great night, too, grabbing a goal and two helpers.

Are they back? Maybe, but Bishop is wisely skirting the issue.

Stamkos did well to walk the line there, too.

What’s not subjective is that the Lightning are now on a two-game winning streak and hope to continue their winning ways against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

Will that rest serve them well, or will their swag dissolve once more?

Roy after Avs’ 7-3 loss: ‘Our goalie wasn’t at his best’

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Reto Berra
AP
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On paper, the Colorado Avalanche seem like an opportunity for Washington Capitals players to stack up some shots on goal and maybe points.

The Avs crumbled even more than that paper even suggested on Saturday, too.

It was a laugher for Washington, as they won 7-3. Granted, it wasn’t funny for Patrick Roy & Co.

Roy seemed to acknowledge that Reto Berra struggled in net, even if the fiery former goalie isn’t caving to critics who say his system isn’t up to snuff.

At times, Berra saved Colorado’s bacon during this past stretch, although Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon have provided fireworks themselves.

Perhaps in ways that parallel the Canadiens getting Carey Price back as Mike Condon began to falter, it’s probably a relief that Semyon Varlamov is believed to be nearing a return.

Will Varlamov right the ship, or will Roy need to find someone else to blame?

(In case you’re wondering, Evgeny Kuznetsov was the Capitals player who seemed to benefit the most with a one-goal, two-assist night.)

Rask edges Reimer in goalie duel; Marchand torments Toronto

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The story was going to be about James Reimer, but to some extent, Zdeno Chara ended that with a big blast.

Chara scored the 1-0 goal fairly late in the third period of what had been a great display of goaltending, particularly by Reimer, as the Boston Bruins ultimately won 2-0. Tuukka Rask got the shutout, continuing to haunt Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

Again, Reimer was still very good, and still remains quite hot.

It was also a game in which Brad Marchand likely made even more enemies.

As you can see from the video above, he delivered a questionable hit (was it knee-to-knee?) on Leo Komarov. He also rubbed a little salt in Toronto’s wounds with an empty-netter.

The three stars says most of it:

Yet Marchand certainly made an impact in his own right, and in his own distinct way.