The math isn't overly complicated for the Blackhawks.
The talk in NHL circles -- and the Hawks' locker room -- is that Patrick Kane has an MCL sprain of his left knee, and the team sees it as a three-week injury.
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The Hawks -- like most NHL teams -- don't discuss particulars, saying it's a "lower-body injury," but 1-3 weeks fits the Grade I MCL sprain timeline. The Ducks' Cam Fowler has an MCL injury, and the team announced he'd miss 3-5 weeks, probably a Grade II.
In any case, with the Hawks' first playoff game about four weeks from the day Kane was injured, the Hawks are optimistic he will be rested and ready to go -- and maybe even play a game or two before the postseason begins.
"If things go as planned," said Hawks GM Stan Bowman, "he should be fine in the playoffs."
Kane was injured Wednesday night against the Blues when Brenden Morrow fell on Kane's left knee near the boards after colliding with Sheldon Brookbank, and the Hawks played their first game without Kane on Friday night when they defeated Carolina 3-2 at the UC.
It was hardly a masterpiece, but the Hawks came out with energy, somewhat surprising when you consider the emotion spent in defeating the Blues only two nights before.
"It can be a difficult game after you play at such a high level, and that's not taking anything away from Carolina at all. There's a lot of talent there," said goaltender Corey Crawford, who was sharp in Friday's victory.
"But that was like a playoff game the other night (against St. Louis), so it would have been easy to take this game a little lightly. I don't think we did that. I thought our approach was really good."
The Hawks started strong, outshooting the Canes 10-1 at one point in the first. They finally jumped out front on Patrick Sharp's 30th goal 3:09 into the second, and Nick Leddy made a sweet play to set up Kris Versteeg for 2-0 Hawks lead with less than four minutes to go in the middle period.
"Then we took 6 penalties in a row, or a stretch of 6 penalties there," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "It got them right back into the game."
That was the only way for Carolina to get back in the game. The Hawks took 6 penalties in a 21-minute span starting 3:23 into the second, just a few ticks after the Hawks had taken a commanding 2-0 lead against a team generating very little pressure.
The Canes scored with 38 seconds left in the second and then tied it on a 5-on-3 early in the third, but Jonathan Toews -- who took a pair of penalties eight minutes apart in the second -- scored on a short-handed break just 32 seconds later for the go-ahead goal, and that was enough for Crawford.
Despite the early burst, the Hawks were outshot 28-25 for the game, though they gave up precious few chances in the last few minutes of the game, playing most of it in the Carolina zone and dominating puck possession.
"I think we're going to be able to look back on this game a few weeks from now and remember how well we played in those last few minutes," Crawford said. "I'm not sure they had a shot the last five minutes (of the game)."
It was a terrific defensive effort, especially in light of the potential emotional letdown following the St. Louis game. Offensively, the Hawks had enough chances early that they could have led the game 5-0 in the first if they had merely hit the net.
The rest of the game was not pretty because of self-inflicted wounds, but they picked up 2 points against a struggling team. Besides, not every game is a work of art and they survived the first contest without Kane.
They might get Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad back Sunday, and Michal Rozsival isn't far away. Teuvo Teravainen is also likely to make his NHL debut in the next game or two, though the Hawks are downplaying expectations.
At 19, Teravainen is listed on NHL.com at 5-feet-11, 169 pounds, nearly identical to what Kane was when he arrived as an 18-year-old rookie, but to make the talent comparison is unfair to the kid.
He seems more like Marty St. Louis, in size and skill, but with a defensive responsibility to his game, like fellow Finnish center Mikko Koivu, who is also 4 inches taller and 55 pounds heavier.
In time, Teravainen will provide the comps, perhaps someday creating comparisons of his own, as Kane now does for any talented young player who arrives in the NHL.
Teravainen also provides a distraction while the Hawks rehab Kane -- and get him ready for the first week of the playoffs.
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