Patrick Kane

Jarret Stoll, Michal Handzus

Get your game notes: Kings at Blackhawks

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Los Angeles Kings at 8:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Back at United Center: This is the 3rd and final meeting of the season (each has 1 regulation win), but the first game at United Center since June 1, 2014 – Game 7 of last year‟s Western Conf. Final, which LA won 5-4 (OT).

• LA’s playoff push: The Kings are ending a 5-game road trip today (3-1-0 record thus far).

• The Kings swept NJ, NYR, and NYI on the same road trip for the 3rd time in franchise history. They are just one of three teams all-time to accomplish that feat (NSH, ANA). However, LA‟s winning streak was snapped on Saturday in the loss to MIN.

• LA has once again fallen outside the playoff picture, however the Kings have a game in hand on both the Flames and the Jets. In addition, the Kings lead the tiebreaker (ROW) against Winnipeg. A win tonight would put the Kings back in the playoffs (Wild Card if CGY also wins, 3rd in Pacific if CGY loses).

• Tonight ends the Kings’ most challenging remaining stretch schedule-wise. Four of their final 6 games after tonight are against teams out of the playoff race (EDM twice, COL, SJ). The other two games are crucial Pacific Division matchups and could determine LA‟s fate this season – at Vancouver in a week and at Calgary in the Kings’ penultimate game of the regular season.

• Late-season surges have been LA‟s identity in each of the past 3 seasons, as they have not clinched a playoff spot until the very end of the season.

• The Kings can become the first repeat champ since DET won in 1997 & 1998…on the other end of the spectrum, they could become only the 4th team since the 1967-68 expansion to miss the playoffs the season after winning the Cup, joining CAR (2006-07), NJ (1995-96) & MTL (1969-70).

• Chicago battling for position: Though the Hawks have won just twice in their last 5 games (2-3-0 record), they are coming off a come-from-behind 4-3 win in Winnipeg yesterday. While still 3rd in the Central, Chicago is under pressure from Minnesota (26-6-2 since Jan. 15 – most wins in NHL), and must keep winning to avoid being a Wild Card team. The Hawks have a game in hand on the Wild and one more matchup this season.

• Without Patrick Kane: After last night’s win, Chicago has now gone 9-4-1 without its leading scorer. Kane underwent successful surgery on Feb. 25 to repair his left clavicle fracture and was expected to be out 12 weeks from that time. That timetable likely puts Kane out until at least the WC Final. While he has been on the ice since, there is no change in the prognosis. At the time of the injury, Kane was tied for the league lead in points with 64 in 61 games.

• For the better part of March, Chicago had been winning games with improved defense to make up for the dip in scoring caused by Kane’s absence. Though those trends over the 14 games without Kane still hold, recently the Hawks have seen different results.

• Before the 4-goal outburst yesterday, the Hawks had scored 7 goals in the 5 previous games. And CHI now has allowed 12 goals over its last 3 games – it had allowed just 13 in the 9 games before that.

KINGS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jonathan Quick ranks 2nd in the NHL with 65 starts this season, which includes his current run of 14 straight. He was pulled after the first period against MIN – he stopped 7 of 9 shots. Despite the loss Saturday, Quick‟s play since Feb. 7 (the start of LA‟s season-high 8-game win streak) has sparked the Kings’ turnaroud

• This season vs. CHI: 1-1-0 record, 3.03 GAA, .887 SV%. This includes a 26-save performance in the most recent meeting (4-3 Kings win on Jan. 28).

• Regular season career vs. CHI: 7-13-1 record, 2.79 GAA, .908 SV%.

• Including playoffs, Tyler Toffoli has 15 points (8 goals) in 17 career games against the Blackhawks.

• Anze Kopitar has led the Kings in scoring each of the past 7 seasons, and his 60 points this season also leads the team. Kopitar had a 5-game point streak snapped in the loss to the Wild, but he still has 6 points in the 4 games on this road trip.

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Since Kane was injured, 3 Hawks have stepped up offensively – captain Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Andrew Shaw. All 3 players scored in yesterday’s win.

• Toews – a Winnipeg native – scored the game-winning goal with 31 seconds left in regulation yesterday.

• Sharp went 19 games without a goal from Jan. 30 to March 12 (2nd-longest drought of career), but he now has 4 goals (and 4 assists) in the 8 games since, including the game-tying goal on a 3rd-period breakaway yesterday.

• Shaw had gone 13 straight games without a point leading up to Kane’s exit from the lineup. He has 7 points (5 goals) in the 14 games without number 88, including 4 goals in the last 4 games.

• Goaltender Corey Crawford has made 5 straight starts, and though he picked up the win yesterday stopping 31 of 34 shots, he has allowed 3+ goals in 4 of those 5 games.

Blackhawks coach happy with Kane’s progress, hoping for early return

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The Chicago Blackhawks have been without Patrick Kane for more than a month, but the hope is for the skilled forward to possibly make an early return to the lineup.

On Feb. 24, Kane suffered a fractured clavicle after being shoved awkwardly from behind into the boards. The timetable for his return was 12 weeks following surgery.

NHL.com reported that Kane is skating on his own, but if he was unavailable for the 12 weeks, he’d be out until the middle of May and the Western Conference Final.

“I’ve always hoped that [he could return sooner],” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, as per ESPN Chicago. “We’ll see.

“I think it’s still the same timetable, but how well he’s skating and how well he’s doing, I think he feels real good about where he’s at.

“It’s just a matter of when he gets that green light is probably going to be the hurdle. But we like his approach, and he’s doing a lot of things out there that he wants to do or is able to do. That’s a good sign.”

The Blackhawks are third in the Central Division with 94 points, but were only three points up on the Minnesota Wild prior to puck drop on Friday’s NHL schedule, which features the Wild hosting the Calgary Flames.

At the time of his injury, Kane had 27 goals and 64 points in 61 games.

Signing Day: After getting Baun, Chicago inks Paliotta

USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp - USA Blue v Finland
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Nice little Thursday for the Blackhawks.

Just hours after beating out several NHL clubs in securing the rights to Colgate standout Kyle Baun, the ‘Hawks announced they signed Michael Paliotta — their third-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — to a two-year deal.

Paliotta, 21, just wrapped a four-year career at Vermont in style, posting a career-high 36 points while being named to the Hockey East second-team. He’s got good size — 6-foot-4, 205 pounds — and ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman is high on his ability, recently saying he’d like Paliotta to turn pro right now.

And so, Paliotta has.

This, along with the Baun deal, signifies a potential changing of the guard in Chicago. In recent years, the organization wasn’t the ideal landing spot for prospects; given Chicago’s wealth of talent at the NHL level, the likes of Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Clendening (drafted the same year as Paliotta) and Jeremy Morin failed to crack the roster and were dealt elsewhere while one prospect — ’10 first-rounder Kevin Hayes, Jimmy’s younger brother — balked on the ‘Hawks entirely, opting to hit free agency rather than sign an entry-level deal in Chicago, eventually inking with the Rangers.

Times appear to have have changed, though.

The ‘Hawks are facing a summer of upheaval, which could be why Baun and Paliotta — who, like Hayes, could’ve gone unrestricted this summer — decided to come on board. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said Patrick Sharp will be “gone, for sure” this summer and it’s expected the ‘Hawks will also have to part ways with veteran d-man Johnny Oduya, in part because of the $10M cap hit extensions for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, which kick in next year.

With other experienced players potentially leaving (Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards are also pending UFAs), Chicago might now be seen as an organization filled with opportunity, rather than roadblocks.

Video: Dangle with Kane, Toews during GoPro practice session

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews

Check out Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and running mate Patrick Kane showing off some pretty deft hands and “sick dangles” (as the kids like to say) in this latest installment of GoPro video:

Get your game notes: ‘Hawks at Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers v Chicago Blackhawks
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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• 2010 Stanley Cup Final matchup: The Blackhawks and Flyers were opponents in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, won in 6 games by Chicago. Patrick Kane scored in overtime of Game 6 to clinch the Cup for the Hawks.

• The Blackhawks have 9 players from the Cup-winning team still on their roster today (though Kris Versteeg has played on 3 different teams, including the Flyers during part of the 2010-11 season, since the 2010 Final before his return to Chicago via trade last season).

• The Flyers, on the other hand, have just Claude Giroux remaining from that season’s Cup Final appearance (Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen were on PHI in 2010 but were just traded at the deadline).

• Chicago climbing in March: The Hawks are 7-1-1 in March, and while still 3rd in the Central Division, this stretch has now given them a legitimate chance to earn at least home ice in the First Round, if not win the Central entirely.

• The Hawks also have 2 games in hand on both Nashville and St. Louis, as well as two more matchups with the Blues (none vs. the Predators).

• Philly going the other way in March: On March 7, the Flyers played a pivotal game in Boston. Entering the game, the Flyers trailed the Bruins by 4 points for the final playoff spot. Philly was 15 seconds away from a regulation win (and pulling to within 2 pts of the B’s), but Boston scored the tying goal in the dying seconds before netting the OT winner to widen the gap in the standings.

• Less than 3 weeks later, the Flyers are on the verge of mathematical elimination.

• Dating back to the BOS loss, PHI has won just once in its last 9 games (1-4-4 record). The Flyers trail the final playoff spot by 11 points with just 8 games left.

• The Flyers enter tonight after getting swept (0-2-2 record) on a 4-game road trip through Canada. They have now lost 9 straight on the road. Philly has also lost 9 straight road games on two separate occasions this season – the first time that has happened in franchise history.

• Following the EDM loss, Flyers players addressed the outlook for the rest of the season:

“We have to pick it up. We have pride as a group, and even though the playoffs probably aren’t in the picture, we want to finish strong.” – Ray Emery

“Guys are playing for jobs next year, and motivation shouldn’t be an issue at all.” – Brayden Schenn CHI Team/Player Notes

• Thriving without Kane: After the win vs. Carolina, Chicago has now gone 8-2-1 without its leading scorer. Kane underwent successful surgery on Feb. 25 to repair his left clavicle fracture and was expected to be out 12 weeks from that time (exactly 4 weeks ago). That timetable likely puts Kane out until at least the WC Final. At the time of the injury, Kane was tied for the league lead in points with 64 in 61 games. His 27 goals were 3 shy of his career high of 30 set in 2009-10.

• Since Kane has been out, Chicago’s offense has dipped, but the Hawks’ defense has dramatically improved:

• Kane looked good on the ice last Friday, but the timetable on his return remains unchanged:

“He was skating before practice, so he was out on the ice, (and) he was actually flying out there…He’s progressing real well and he’s going to have a tough stretch of trying to keep him away from wanting to play a game right now.” – Coach Joel Quenneville, on Kane’s progress

“Yeah, nothing’s changed.” – Quenneville, on the status of his recovery

CHICAGO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jonathan Toews had an assist vs. CAR on Monday – the 500th point of his NHL career.

• In 9 games this March, Toews has 10 points (4G-6A).

• Toews is 4 points away from tying Kane for the team lead. Toews has only led the Hawks in scoring once in his career (2010-11 w/ 76 points at age 22).

• Patrick Sharp had 1 goal and 1 assist vs. CAR. Sharp had gone 19 straight games without a goal from Jan. 30 to March 12 (2nd-longest drought of career), but since scoring twice on March 14 at SJ, he now has 3 goals (and 3 assists) in his last 5 games.

• Sharp (13 goals this season) is still well below his team-leading performance of 34 goals a season ago.

• The Hawks team defense has been stellar of late. Corey Crawford stopped 43 shots against Carolina for his 30th win of the season – the 4th 30-win season of his career (all w/ CHI).

• He is just the 3rd goalie in franchise history to post 4 seasons of at least 30 wins in a Hawks uniform, joining Hall-of-Famers Tony Esposito (8 times) and Glenn Hall (also 4 times).

• Crawford has only faced the Flyers once in his career – a 4-1 home loss back in Jan. 2011, but he has never played at Wells Fargo Center.

• Antti Raanta (now in AHL) posted a 32-save shutout in the first matchup this season on Oct. 21 (4-0 win).

• Newcomers struggling: In their 9 games with CHI, trade acquisitions Kimmo Timonen (0 pts) and Antoine Vermette (2 pts) have yet to make an impact offensively.

• The 40-year-old Timonen had spent the past 7+ seasons in Philadelphia before the Flyers traded him on Feb. 27 for a 2015 2nd-round pick and a 2016 conditional 4th-round pick.

PHILLY TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Jakub Voracek is coming off a 3-assist performance vs. EDM on Saturday. He now ranks 2nd in the NHL with his 52 assists and t-3rd in points with 73.

• One point behind Sidney Crosby and John Tavares in the scoring race, Voracek could become the first Flyer to lead the NHL in scoring by himself in the 46+ seasons of the franchise (in lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Eric Lindros shared for the NHL lead in pts w/ Jaromir Jagr, but he did not share the Art Ross Trophy title, as Lindros lost the goals scored tiebreaker to Jagr).

• Crosby led the league in assists & points last season.

• Claude Giroux scored twice vs. EDM. Now with 21 goals on the season, Giroux has scored at least 20 goals for the second straight season, and 4th time overall in his 8 NHL seasons.

• Giroux has finished 3rd in the scoring race 2 of the last 3 seasons (2014, 2012). He is t-9th in the league this season (67 points).

• Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Giroux has the most points in the NHL (294 in 280 GP).

• Giroux (22nd overall) and Toews (3rd overall) were both 1st-round picks in the 2006 NHL Draft.

• Wayne Simmonds has picked up his play since the All-Star Break as compared to his first-half numbers.

• Simmonds is 3 goals away from his first career 30-goal season. His 14 power-play goals are 3rd in the NHL and 1 shy of the career-high he set last season.

• Steve Mason (illness) was a late scratch before EDM game, but GM Ron Hextall said he has since recovered.

• Mason last played against CGY on Thursday. He was pulled during the 2nd period after allowing 2 goals on 16 shots. Mason has just 1 win in his last 7 games.

• Ray Emery, who was reportedly not told throughout game day vs. EDM that Mason might be too sick to start, allowed 4 goals on the first 12 Oilers shots he faced.

• He finished the day allowing 5 goals on 34 shots in the overtime loss.