It’s just under eight weeks since Patrick Kane left the ice with a broken clavicle, but he’s back — and ready for the post-season.
Per Nina Falcone of Comcast Chicago, Kane has been cleared for full contact and will be back on the ice with the team in time for their first game against the Nashville Predators. By returning to the lineup in time to begin the post-season, he recovered a full two weeks ahead of the estimated timetable — making the Blackhawks a more formidable team almost instantly.
There’s no confirmation as to where he’ll be slotted exactly in the lineup, but the two skaters most likely scratched to make room for Kane are Antoine Vermette and Joakim Nordstrom — and the controversy in deciding which one to keep in the lineup is likely a tough one. While Vermette has clearly struggled to perform well with Chicago since getting dealt at the deadline for a first round pick and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck, Nordstrom is both inexperienced and a bit unpredictable. The Blackhawks, in having to choose between the two forwards, are forced to decide between a reliable veteran two-way center who hasn’t been playing at his normal levels and a rookie with no playoff experience but better numbers this season overall.
Before going down on February 24th, Kane — who finished the season with only sixty-one games played — had twenty-seven goals and thirty-seven assists. It was believed that, had he and Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin not each gone down with injuries this spring, the Art Ross Trophy may have seen a player top ninety points on the year. At the pace he had been scoring, it’s possible that Kane could have even crested the century mark in scoring — although that would have largely depended on how he and the rest of his team had performed overall.
While he’s returning, though, there’s still no confirmation from the Nashville Predators that they’ll have either Mike Fisher or Cody Franson back by tomorrow. The first game of round one begins at 8:30P.M. in Nashville.