Patrick Kane will be out with a lower-body injury suffered against the St. Louis Blues Wednesday. Kane will be out at least two weeks, and reports have been made of a month-long absence. Without Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks‘ playoff seeding could take a huge hit, and it will be up to role players to step up and play above their ability until he returns. If Kane is out for exactly three weeks, he would return Wed. April 9 against the Montreal Canadiens, meaning he would miss nine games. So, how tough is that schedule, and what can we expect from the team during this stretch?
The schedule shouldn’t be too difficult for the team, as a majority of the games are against teams that are out of playoff contention. The stretch starts with three home games, against the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars. These should be three wins for the team regardless of Kane’s presence. Of those three teams, only the Stars have any chance of sneaking into the playoffs as they currently sit two points behind the no.2 wild card in the Western Conference with a game in hand on the current second wild card, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Following these games, the team has a tough road streak against some Eastern Conference powers. This starts with a game against the top team in the East, a Stanley Cup re-match with the Boston Bruins. After an easier game against the Ottawa Senators, the team will face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins and Bruins are the top teams in their respective divisions, and should provide a major test for a team missing one of their top players.
April will be a month of variables, as the Hawks will face the Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues. The Wild are sketchy, and currently are in the first wild card spot, while the Blue Jackets are the second wild card in the East. The teams aren’t great, but the Hawks might not be all that great without Kane either. The final game in this stretch would be another match-up with the Blues that would provide a huge test, and with the Hawks currently sitting six points behind the Blues, this stretch could make this game vital in the race for home-ice in the West.
The team can definitely win five or six games during this stretch, but if the team doesn’t play good hockey, they could lose up to six of these games. It’ll be interesting to see how the team plays without a star player.
Luckily, it appears that Teuvo Teravainen could be joining the team for the home-stretch and could take Kane’s place on the roster. While he wouldn’t take his spot on a top line, the Hawks’ fan base is extremely excited to see what the former first-round pick will bring to the team. Teravainen has played well with Jokerit in the Finnish SM-Liiga this season, and since the team has been eliminated from the playoffs, he is already well on his way to joining the Blackhawks team. If he plays up to his potential in his audition, the team could win as many games as they would if Kane was there. Since the team has done well without star players before, and players will need to step-up like they had just done without Marian Hossa.
While Kane is injured at the worst possible time, the team can definitely contend with the Blues who currently sit six points ahead of them if they step-up their game with Kane out. If not, the Hawks could fall down in the standings and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
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