The Blackhawks defeated the league- and Central-leading Blues for the first time this season, and it was in convincing fashion at 4-0. The Colorado Avalanche also lost, moving the Blackhawks into second place in the division. And Coach Q recorded his 700th career victory.
But instead of feeling joy at the end of the night, Quenneville’s mood was dampened after his star offensive player Patrick Kane suffered a lower-body injury in the game and could miss the remainder of the regular season.
The Blackhawks have had top players go down with injuries for extended periods of time since Quenneville took over in 2008. But he has rarely been without Kane. Kane has played 432 out of a possible 446 games during the past six seasons. He hasn’t missed multiple games due to an injury since December 2010.
“He’s a special player,” Quenneville said. “We’ll have to work our way through it knowing what he brings to our game. It’s definitely a huge loss.”
Kane’s absence could be especially felt in the Blackhawks’ offensive production and their flexibility within their lines.
The Blackhawks lead the league with a 3.31 goals-for average, and Kane has had a lot to do with that. He has registered points in 46 of 69 games this season. He has been a threat to pass throughout his career, but has also become more of a consistent scorer. He’s tied for the team lead with 29 goals and is second with 40 assists.
Quenneville often has taken advantage of Kane’s offensive ability by spreading out the team’s top offensive players. For much of the season, Quenneville had Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on the top line while Kane played with a variety of different players on the second line. Despite not having a lot of consistency in his linemates, Kane continued to produce.
Now with Kane out of the lineup for possibly the next 12 games, Quenneville won’t be afforded the luxury of that offensive depth. The Blackhawks could turn to prospects Jeremy Morin and Teuvo Teravainen to help fill in for Kane. Morin has 24 goals and 23 assists in 47 games for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL. Teravainen was among the league leaders in points in the Liiga in Finland this season.
The Blackhawks are hopeful to get back forward Brandon Saad on Friday or Sunday. He has 19 goals and 25 assists. He has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.