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Blackhawks' Patrick Kane a fan of Washington's Alex Ovechkin

Patrick Kane believes hockey should be as entertaining as possible, so it’s no surprise that he’s a fan of Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

“He’s very fast, he’s explosive, he’s got the big shot, he’s big and strong, he hits, and he’s one of the guys that likes to celebrate after he scores,” Kane said. “You can see how he gets the fans out of their seats pretty quick. When you’re scoring goals that much, how can a fan not like him? He’s definitely fun to watch.”

Kane and Ovechkin, two of the league’s most entertaining players, will be center stage on New Year’s Day at the Winter Classic at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. But first they’ll meet at the United Center on Thursday, with the full crew for the EPIX channel’s documentary series in tow.

“As far as the Winter Classic goes, it could be a great matchup with a lot of talent and a lot of players that can do some special things to maybe help get the fans out of their seats,” Kane said.

Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya likely will be tasked with trying to stop Ovechkin, who has six goals and seven assists in 12 games this season. Corey Crawford will start in goal.

“Hopefully, I’ll be out on the ice against him a lot,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s always a good challenge to play against the best players in the league, and he’s definitely one of those.”

Saad steps up

After being dropped to the fourth line, Brandon Saad will take over Patrick Sharp’s left-wing spot on the second line. Joel Quenneville hope it sparks Saad, who has just two assists in his last eight games.

“We’re looking for him to get that pace, where he’s a threat in the middle of the ice, he’s got some speed through that neutral zone, he’s taking on defensemen with his speed and making them turn,” Quenneville said. “He’s got that ability and I think that consistency is what we’re looking for. I think he’ll be excited about playing with [Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw], as well. It’s a good opportunity for him to get going. And that pace that we look for from him is something hopefully he can achieve playing with those guys.”

Carcillo update

Daniel Carcillo, who has missed six games so far with a knee injury suffered Oct. 25 at St. Louis, is “progressing” and could start skating in the next few days, according to Joel Quenneville. He’s still on target to return in about two weeks.