There aren't many bigger fans of Patrick Kane than St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who marvels at the way the Blackhawks' winger plays the game.
"I don't get how he plays," Hitchcock said. "How you can go around the ice for 60 minutes and nobody touches you? I don't understand that. It's fascinating to watch him as a player."
Hitchcock remembers a much different Kane years ago.
"I coached against him in the World Championships in '09 and to see where he's at now as a player from there is incredible," Hitchcock said. "He's a (heck) of a player and he's a (heck) of a competitor. He's one of those guys that when you see him, we've got pictures on the (TV) screen, he's in the picture then he's out of the picture. Where the (heck) is he? He's on a breakaway.
"He's got great hockey intelligence and is hard to play against. To watch him go from where he was at in '08 or '09 to where he is now is pretty incredible."
Kane was expecting to be hit on Wednesday by the physical Blues.
"You know they're going to be running around," Kane said before the game to reporters. "I don't expect to go 60 minutes without getting hit."
Now it gets busy for the Hawks.
After playing just twice in the first week of the season, Wednesday's game at St. Louis against the Blues was the first of three in four nights.
"It feels like we're playing football here with one game a week," said center Andrew Shaw.
The Hawks play three games next week, including a road test at Carolina on Tuesday, a rematch with the Blues on Thursday and a visit from former teammate Dave Bolland and Toronto on Saturday.
"I think you can look at it as a positive," winger Patrick Sharp said. "We played a lot of hockey last year and had a short summer so this gives us a chance to get some practice time in and have guys be healthy and excited and feeling good physically."
The back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday against the Islanders and Buffalo will allow coach Joel Quenneville to get backup goalie Nikolai Khabibulin his first start.
"They both will have enough workload," Quenneville said of both his goalies. "They're both happy and we're happy with the contribution they give the team."
Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank became the last regular to get in a game at St. Louis.
Avs impress Quenneville:
The Blues might not be the Hawks' only rival in the new-look Central Division.
Colorado is off to a 3-0 start under new coach Patrick Roy and impressing Joel Quenneville.
"You look at their lineup on paper, and you know, the top three lines are pretty dangerous," Quenneville said. "This new kid, first overall (Nathan McKinnon), looks pretty amazing, got a nice set of hands and they work well together as a team.
"One thing about Patrick, they're going to be well-organized, they're going to be prepared and they're going to be intense. They're in our division right now and we expect them to be much improved from last season. They've certainly got a lot of kids who have skill and speed up front."