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Blackhawks fired up by shots from Predators coach Barry Trotz

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane gets set for a third period faceoff as the Hawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in overtime March 21, 2012 at the United Center. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

The criticism wasn’t new to Patrick Kane. Of all the Blackhawks, the offensively gifted forward often gets criticized for his defense and his play without the puck.

But it’s unusual that Kane was hearing it from an opposing coach. Nashville’s Barry Trotz said he was happy that Hawks forwards – specifically Kane – were “cheating” to manufacture offense and not committing to defense in their last matchup.

“I was kind of taken aback by it, kind of shocked that he would say something like that because of the history of our team and how successful we’ve been in the past and how successful [Joel Quenneville has] been,” Kane told the Sun-Times on Saturday. “It’s almost like he’s saying – I don’t want to say telling Joel how to coach – but telling us how to play.

“It kind of takes you aback a little bit. But you’re just reading quotes. You’re not hearing him say it firsthand, so who knows what he really meant or how he really said it. But you definitely can take a lot from it.”

Trotz was offering his thoughts on the Hawks’ nine-game losing streak a day after it ended with a 4-2 victory Feb. 16 over the New York Rangers. The Predators, whom the Hawks host Sunday, handed the Hawks three defeats in that skid, including the last one, a 3-2 loss Feb. 14 in Nashville, Tenn.

“Kane had no speed, and thank God because when he gets rolling, he’s hard to stop,” Trotz told reporters, referencing that win. “I was actually happy that he was cheating. [Marian Hossa] was the one guy who was sort of playing a complete game, and he ended up being the most dangerous guy all night, and [Jonathan Toews] was the real deal. He was really trying to will that team that night. Some of the other guys were cheating too much, trying to do the right thing but doing the wrong thing, if you know what I mean.”

It’s not the first time Kane has been criticized by an opponent. If anything, he has shown a resolve to it all.

Since that loss to Nashville, the Hawks have gone 13-4-1. Kane has eight goals and 15 points since then, getting praised for his leadership several times by Quenneville for handling first-line center with Toews ailing.

“Sometimes those things are even good for a player to hear because of how long the season is and how things can get stale,” Kane said. “But you see that, it fires you up. It’s fired a lot of guys up in here. A lot of us were taken aback by it, so hopefully we can show [Trotz] and prove him wrong.”