If Friday's practice was any indication, Patrick Kane is ready for his first NHL game in his hometown of Buffalo tonight against the Sabres.
"He had the jump today," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said after Friday's workout. "I felt he had lots of jump and a great practice. I hope he goes there and has fun with it."
Kane's return was front page news in Friday's Buffalo News. The Hawks' rookie figures to be besieged by the media at today's morning skate, which the Sabres have agreed to open to the public.
There will also be a brief ceremony prior to the game recognizing Kane.
Kane's teammates would like to see him have a big night, but the most important thing is beating the Sabres.
"You always want to see guys do well when they go home," said Robert Lang. "But it was the same when we went to Vancouver and guys had people there, and Calgary and Edmonton. Pretty much everywhere you go now guys have people."
Kane's home is about five miles from HSBC Arena.
"It's where my life is, where my family is, where my true friends are," Kane told the Buffalo News. "They don't care at all if I'm first overall or some kid going to high school.
"It's why I love going back there in the summer. I get the key to the city, and my friends are making fun of me. We play road hockey, I mess up a play, and they're like, 'First overall? Are you serious?' It's where everything started. It's funny how things worked out."
Forward thinking: Denis Savard has no plans to move Dustin Byfuglien back to defense.
Byfuglien has been one of the Hawks' best forwards and appears to have found a home on the first line with Robert Lang and Martin Havlat.
"I would be pleased if I were Langer and Havvy to play with such a big forward with skill and who is smart," Savard said. "It's tough to find that type of power forward in the league because there's not many of them. We're lucky to have him and Buff has really become a leader for us. He's happy and enjoying it up there."
Good news: Injured winger Rene Bourque skated with a stick in his hands Friday for the first time since breaking his right thumb Nov. 17 against Detroit.
Bourque might be able to return to practice late next week, Denis Savard said.
Tip-ins: Defenseman Jim Vandermeer returns to the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch for two games. … Magnus Johansson will sit out. … The Hawks have dropped their last three games on the road.