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Are the Blackhawks Still Contenders with Patrick Kane Sidelined for 12 Weeks?

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterFebruary 26, 2015

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks is helped off the ice in front of Jonathan Toews #19 after being cross-checked against the Florida Panthers at the United Center on February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It's getting harder to see the silver lining in the Patrick Kane injury news.

But it's still there.

The Blackhawks let it be known Wednesday that the originally reported 10-week prognosis would actually be 12 weeks, as Kane required surgery to repair the clavicle he broke Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers:

Chicago Blackhawks @NHLBlackhawks

Patrick Kane undergoes successful surgery, full recovery anticipated in approx. 12 weeks. http://t.co/HuVJDY8Svd

The rosy smell in the fertilizer-filled yard was the idea that general manager Stan Bowman could use the $6.3 million in cap-space savings to add free-agent rentals, then have Kane rejoin the team early in the playoffs, as sitting above the salary-cap ceiling doesn't matter in the playoffs.

Sure, this injury hurts the Blackhawks now, but in the playoffs, when things really matter, the team could be better off with this loss of Kane.

Well...

If Kane is out 12 weeks, that means he could return sometime during the Western Conference Final. This is the playoffs, however, and as cliche as it may be, hockey players always seem to find a way to get back from devastating injuries sooner than expected. So best case, Kane misses the entire first round, which would put him at the nine-week mark; then he's back for the second round.

Worst case, the Blackhawks have to win eight playoff games without a player who was looking like a Hart Trophy finalist.

Are the Blackhawks done?

Absolutely not.

It won't be easy, though.

The question here is like this: Are the Blackhawks good enough without Kane to beat the St. Louis Blues in a seven-game series?

Maybe, maybe not.

Are they good enough to beat the Blues without Kane but with a pair of rental players (maybe Jaromir Jagr and Jeff Petry) added in his place?

Absolutely.

The Blackhawks are so deep that they've been using Patrick Sharp on the fourth line in recent games. Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Sharp are two-time Cup winners in Chicago. Brad Richards has one with Tampa Bay and played in a Final last year with the Rangers.Β 

There's a reason why the Blackhawks were listed as Stanley Cup odds-on favorites in sportsbooks, viaΒ OddsShark.com. This isn't a one-man band.

The Blues are the example here because the Blackhawks are in line to face them in the first round. Chicago beat St. Louis in four straight after dropping the first two games of the series in 2014, and there are not a whole lot of differences (besides Kane) between the teams a year later.Β 

The other likely matchups for the Blackhawks are the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks. The Predators could be a problem in either the first or second round without Kane, but are you truly picking Anaheim to beat Chicago four out of seven?

There's also precedent for the Blackhawks not only surviving but thriving without Kane in the playoffs, at least in a figurative sense.

When Chicago won the Cup in 2013, Kane had two goals in his first 15 postseason games, which include the first three contests of the West Final. After that, he had seven goals and two assists in eight games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

This is a blow for the Blackhawks but hardly a death blow. This could be a rallying point, a wake-up call.

Depending on what Bowman does before the deadline and the first-round matchup, the loss of Kane still has the potential to beat the best thing to happen to the Blackhawks in 2014-15.

All statistics via NHL.com and Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com. Cap information via Spotrac.

Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.

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