Update (April 13): Kane practiced with the Hawks on Monday without issue, and coach Joel Quenneville affirmed afterwards that it's possible he plays in Game 1. The winger sounds very, very close to being ready to return.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is expected to play in the team's first-round series against the Nashville Predators and could be back as soon as Game 1. Kane has been cleared for full-contact practice on Monday and is considered probable for the opening game of the series on Wednesday, according to Hawks broadcaster Pat Boyle.
It goes without saying that this is potentially season-changing news for the Blackhawks. Kane was playing on an MVP-level before suffering a major clavicle injury in February. That was expected to keep him out for roughly 12 weeks, but now we're apparently hearing he'll be back much, much sooner.
This isn't unprecedented. Minnesota's Jason Zucker suffered a similar injury this season and came back nearly a month early, although we're looking at an even quicker turnaround for Kane. One middle ground that seems possible is Kane returning soon, but not until later in the series:
Patrick Kane was taking some contact over the weekend at Johnny's. He's close. I still think Game 3ish is a lot more likely than Game 1.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 12, 2015
Either way, this is a huge development for Chicago. Having Kane back in time for a few games against the Predators (and whatever might come next) could be difference between a deep run or going home early. We still need to see something more official from the team before getting too excited, but for now it sounds an awful lot like the Hawks' playoff run won't have to come without their superstar winger.