Instead of a matchup against what more than likely will be a goalie for the U.S. Olympic team, the Hawks will see one of their former backstops Friday when Patrick Lalime goes between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres.
Ryan Miller will play Saturday night when Buffalo takes on the Rangers so he will miss the Hawks. That could be a break for Chicago, considering Miller is coming off his fourth shutout of the season and is 2-0 with a goals-against average of 1.00 against the Hawks in his career.
Lalime is 0-2 in three games this season with a 4.54 GAA.
Kane already played once in his hometown, two years ago during his rookie season. This one might feel a little different because of a very public run-in with a cab driver over the summer, which landed Kane in jail.
“That one [first game there] felt like a celebration. This time I might get booed,” Kane said. “This one will be a little bit different, a little more focused on hockey because of what happened this past summer. You don’t know what the reaction is you’re going to get. Hopefully it's positive. If not, just worry about playing hockey.”
Kane’s teammates feel he has handled the incident as well as possible. His coach agrees. In fact, Joel Quenneville is impressed with his young star’s progress both on and off the ice.
“We really liked his whole approach going into this season,” Quenneville said. “I think right from the outset this year you could see the progress and his maturity, be it on the ice or as a young kid. Everybody goes through stretches where you learn and you become a better and stronger person. I really like his development and the way he’s approached this whole season.”
Campbell says it’s a big deal for him to return to play the team that drafted him and saw him grow up.
“I went there when I was 20, a young kid, turning into an adult, learning systems and becoming a better player. There’s a lot of good friends there that I have. It was a big part of my life.”
Along with Kane, Campbell knows he might hear some boos when he touches the puck, just as he did against another former team in San Jose. He’s OK with it.
“I think it’s hard not to [notice the boos],” Campbell joked. “I think the first time you’re like,‘Whoa, what’s going on?' Now you take it as a compliment, and I’m glad I’ve had that experience in case it happens. I have no idea [if it will] but it won’t have any effect on how I feel about Buffalo and that city and the people there.”
The Hawks have not scored a five-on-five goal in their past two games but have won them both. “We’ll take the win and worry about how we win later,” Quenneville said.
Quenneville talked about Dustin Byfuglien’s goal, and his play, before the team left for Buffalo. “It was a special play. It was a ‘wow’ goal … You’re not complaining about his production but the consistency thing is the thing we’d like to bring together.” Byfuglien is tied for the team lead with nine goals.
Speaking of nine goals, here’s the stat of the day: 24 other teams in the NHL have at least one player with more than nine. Kane, Kris Versteeg, and Byfuglien are tied for 55th. It obviously points to the Hawks' depth because there are only five teams with more points and four of them have played more games than the Hawks.