Patrick Kane to return from injury for Stanley Cup playoff opener

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will return to the lineup from a 21-game injury absence for Wednesday’s opener of a best-of-seven conference quarter-final at Nashville.

Blackhawks winger to give offence boost, sport mullet

Blackhawks right-winger Patrick Kane pronounced himself fit to play in Wednesday's playoff opener against the Predators in Nashville. Kane missed the final 21 games of the regular season with a broken collarbone. Still, he finished second to Jonathan Toews in Chicago scoring with 64 points on 27 goals and 37 assists. (Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press/File)

Bring on the mullet.

Chicago Blackhawks right-winger Patrick Kane will return to the lineup for Wednesday's opener of a best-of-seven conference quarter-final at Nashville.

Kane, 26, confirmed to reporters after Tuesday's practice that he would return from a 21-game absence after breaking his collarbone in February.

"I think all along we were monitoring it," Kane said of the collarbone. "It seemed to just improve week by week.

"So we're at the point right now where it's pretty safe to go out there and try and compete and play."

Kane's mullet has become as much a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the traditional NHL playoff beards. It's brought him and the team luck as the Blackhawks won the Cup in two of the four years he has sported the look.

Will he have racing stripes shaved into the sides of his head? If so, how many?

But more importantly, Kane's return gives the Chicago offence that mustered a measly five goals in its final four regular-season games (all losses) a boost.

With 64 points, he finished second to Jonathan Toews (66) in team scoring. He had 27 goals and 37 goals along with a team-high 22 power-play points.

Kane had surgery on Feb. 25. Originally, his recovery was expected to take up to 12 weeks and he wasn't expected to be back before the Western Conference finals, if the Blackhawks advanced that far.

"It's great news and we're happy to have him," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "It wasn't in the cards knowing we had to get through a round or two before he could even be considered.

"He was having an MVP-type of season. Getting him back just makes you have so many more options. His versatility in all areas certainly enhances our team."

Kane is expected to play alongside centre Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg against the Predators, who went 1-1-2 versus the Blackhawks in the regular campaign.

In 93 playoff games, he has 37 goals and 91 points, including 20 points in 19 post-season contests a year ago.

Kane doesn't expect restrictions on his flashy, up-tempo style. He had averaged just under 20 minutes of ice time per game before his injury and had resumed skating on his own shortly after surgery.

"I think that's important, too, not only for me but for the team, as well, because I want to feel like I can contribute and produce when I am back in the lineup," Kane said. So I think it was important, that reassurance."

In other Blackhawks news, defenceman Kimmo Timonen said he is ready to play after missing the last three regular-season games with an upper-body injury.

With files from The Associated Press


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