-- It might just be "a little bit" of time, but the next few weeks without star forward Patrick Kane
could seem a lot longer for the Chicago Blackhawks
Kane suffered a lower-body injury just 23 seconds into Sunday's 4-2 home win against Calgary, and is expected to be out "upwards of three weeks," according to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville
, who met with reporters after Tuesday's practice at the United Center.
"We're hoping that's the maximum," Quenneville said of the three-week timetable. He also declined to specify what part of Kane's lower body was hurt. "We're going to leave it as a 'lower body,' and you can speculate on where it is, but certainly that's the extent of it and he's progressing right now."
Kane, who injured his right ankle last season, appeared to injure his left leg Sunday as he spun to avoid a check near the boards by Flames defenseman Cory Sarich
. Kane's left skate slammed into the base of boards near the blue line as he fell to the ice, where he stayed until being helped to the locker room.
As for the Hawks, who went on to win beat the Flames without Kane, the impact of losing their second-leading scorer could be large just a week after Marian Hossa
went down with a leg injury. He isn't expected to start skating again until the end of the week, at the earliest.
That could put a crimp in the Blackhawks' quest to defend the Stanley Cup. Quenneville said before playing Calgary he believed it would take 95 points just to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Hawks entered Tuesday's games fifth in the West with 32 points, putting them on pace for just 90. Last season, Colorado was eighth in the West with 95 points.
It will be difficult to hit that 95-point number without two of their top scorers, but the quest resumes Wednesday when the Dallas Stars
come to the United Center. The Stars lead the Pacific Division and are second to the Red Wings in the Western Conference.
"We need wins and there's no secret about that," said forward Patrick Sharp
, who leads the Hawks with 16 goals and 29 points. "It's difficult with those two guys out of the lineup, but we responded well against Calgary last game and played well. We probably won't be scoring six or seven goals a game, but if we keep things simple, the way our coaches talk about every day and stress, there's no reason we can't continue to win."
Especially at the United Center, where the Hawks are just 7-8-0 and have as many regulation home losses in 15 games as they had all of last season.
"Home games in particular, we want to make sure we value the two points and the importance of where we're at," Quenneville said. "Our conference is stacking up and everybody is in the mix, and it's going to make for a great run right to the end. Certainly you're missing some key pieces that play quality ice time, but at the same time we know that checking is going to be at a priority."
They're also going to need more production from forwards like Troy Brouwer
, Bryan Bickell
, Jake Dowell
and Jack Skille
"I'm excited, more than anything, to get more responsibility and a chance to play more ice time," said Skille, who has 3 goals and 10 points. "The more ice time you get, the more chances -- and hopefully my offensive production picks up here."
Crawford gets the nod
-- Hawks veteran goalie Marty Turco
won't get a chance to play against the Dallas Stars
, his former team, as Quenneville will start hot rookie Corey Crawford
, who is on a personal six-game winning streak.
Turco spent nine seasons with the Stars after they selected him in the fifth round of the 1994 Entry Draft. He signed with Chicago as a free agent last summer after the Stars failed to offer him a new contract and the Hawks decided not to meet former goalie Antti Niemi
's arbitration award.
Turco, who has a 2.90 goals-against average and .901 save percentage, has been struggling recently, losing his last three starts. He said he understands Quenneville's decision.
"Corey is playing and he deserves to," Turco said. "I have zero problems with it. If it was an Eastern Conference team and it was our only shot at them this year, I might puff up my chest. But it's no big deal, really. I'm pretty sure I'll get a shot at (the Stars) this year."
Hawks reconfigure lines
-- The Blackhawks only had nine forwards skating at practice Tuesday after sending Jeremy Morin
to Rockford of the American Hockey League on Monday.
Morin and another Rockford player may get recalled before Wednesday's game, or it might be two different Rockford players, according to Quenneville. Whoever it is, it's certain Chicago will have a different look without Kane, Hossa and Fernando Pisani
, who is questionable with an upper-body injury.
During Tuesday's practice, Skille skated at right wing on the top line with captain Jonathan Toews
and left wing Viktor Stalberg
. The second line consisted of Tomas Kopecky
at left wing, Dowell at center and Sharp on the right. The third line stayed the same, with Dave Bolland
centering Bickell on the left and Brouwer on the right.
The top-line combination skated together for part of the Calgary game after Kane got hurt, which Skille enjoyed.
"I thought I had some good chemistry with them in the last game," Skille said. "It's hard to tell in practice. When you get in those game situations it's a lot different, but I feel good with that line and hopefully they do, too."