CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane would rather not have extra time on his hands.
"The length of the past couple of offseasons isn't very fun," the Chicago Blackhawks forward said Saturday. "But at the same time, you're using that time, whether it's to get your body ready for the season or to work on your game. You gotta take advantage of it."
After taking a little time off to travel this summer, the 29-year old has spent the rest of the offseason, which started much earlier than he's been accustomed to, honing his game.
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"I'm trying to dial everything to the point where it just feels comfortable out there and don't have to think too much," Kane said at the Chicago Hockey Charity Classic, a game to benefit Special Olympics Chicago. "I think the biggest thing is just trying to work on little things where it becomes second nature, and when you're out there reading off defenders, you can use certain moves you've been working on in the summer."
Chicago failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season for the first time since 2007-08, one season after being swept from the Western Conference First Round by the Nashville Predators.
Kane and the Blackhawks played at least three playoff rounds each of the prior three seasons, winning the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015 and losing the Western Conference Final in 2014. Kane said he and other veterans, including defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and forward Jonathan Toews, are training with a chip on their shoulder.
"We all have that feeling within us where it's like, we did some good things, but you're restarting now and you have to prove yourself again," Kane said. "It's a long season, and I think maybe we got ahead of ourselves a little bit last year. We got swept in the playoffs the year before, we had a great season in that regular season and we were just kind of looking maybe more forward to getting back to the playoffs and redeeming ourselves instead of taking care of business [in the regular season]. That's where we're at."
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Kane scored 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists) in 82 games last season, after having 89 and 106 the two seasons before.
"The biggest thing for me, whether I'm playing good or not, is to just kind of wipe the slate clean and go into that next game with a lot of confidence and play to my abilities," Kane said. "Worry about the next game at hand and try to help the team win that game. Whatever the numbers are at the end of the year, they are. You want them to be as high as possible. But just take it a game at a time."
How successful the Blackhawks will be this season depends on a few factors, including the health of starting goaltender Corey Crawford. The 33-year-old missed the second half of last season with an upper-body injury. At the Blackhawks Convention on July 27, Crawford said he was "not 100 percent yet" but optimistic he would be ready for training camp in mid-September.
"I mean, obviously you feel for him and he's a great goaltender. More than anything, he's a great friend to a lot of us," Kane said. "You hope he's ready for camp and you hope that he's able to play at a high level. More important, you're just hoping for his health, you know? You want him to be healthy, wherever he's at. I guess we'll take that as a day-by-day thing too."
Kane's offseason work will continue next week when he goes to Tampa for a camp run by Darryl Belfry. Blackhawks forwards Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz will also attend. Kane said he enjoyed playing with DeBrincat for the United States at the 2018 IIHF World Hockey Championship in May, and Kane and Schmaltz went to the camp last offseason and played together most of last season.
"I think it could be a good line if that's the case," Kane said. "I guess we'll see what happens in camp."