September 30, 2014
SOCHI, Russia — After the missed breakaway in overtime against Russia and the lost handle on his first penalty shot Saturday, this was no-nonsense Patrick Kane. No dekes, no fancy footwork, no
deception. Given a second penalty shot in the second period, Kane walked in on Finland goalie Tuukka Rask and simply fired. Beat him, too.
But the shot hit the top of the right post, the rebound fluttering high through the air and landing, remarkably, in Kane’s glove. He swatted the puck away and trudged back to the bench as a clever organist played ‘‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’’
It was that kind of Olympics for Kane, who — despite being one of the few U.S. players who looked interested in playing — pointed a finger at himself after Team USA’s dismal 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.
‘‘No excuses,’’ said Kane, who didn’t score in six games. ‘‘I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough to help the team win a medal.
Obviously, I was expected to do a lot more. When you come over
here and put up zero goals and four assists in six games, that’s not the numbers you want to see. Definitely disappointing.’’
It was the second consecutive game in which high-scoring Team USA was shut out. A 1-0 loss Friday to Canada in the semifinals sucked the life out of the team, and captain Zach Parise chided the players for being passive in the always tough-to-get-up-for consolation game. Parise called the performance ‘‘a little embarrassing.’’ Ryan Suter called it a ‘‘collapse.’’
Finland had no such problems. Teemu Selanne, playing in his sixth and (allegedly) final Olympics, went out in style with his fourth medal. He spoke with the team before the game about how it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a medal, then went out and scored two goals.
While Selanne celebrated, Kane tried to turn his attention to his
return to Chicago. The Blackhawks resume the season Thursday in New York against the Rangers.
‘‘It would have been nice to bring something home,’’ he said. ‘‘But the experience in general will make me a better player and hopefully stronger as my career goes on. As far as the tournament for me, just disappointing, I guess.’’
Frustrating, too. As the game got out of hand, Kane took two penalties, including an uncharacteristic slash. He wasn’t the only U.S. player who clearly wanted to win a bronze medal — Ryan Kesler, Ryan McDonagh and Suter all came to play — but he was one of far too few.
‘‘It’s an opportunity lost, quite honestly,’’ said Dustin Brown, who was benched by Team USA coach Dan Bylsma after playing less than five minutes. ‘‘There’s not too many times you get an opportunity to play in the Olympics.’’
Kane looked beaten after the loss to Canada, his eyes sullen and his head heavy. Less than three weeks ago, his grandfather Donald Kane died. Kane flew home to Buffalo, N.Y., for the funeral, then flew to Sochi to face the enormous expectations and media obligations that come with being on the world stage.
But if he was feeling the effects of a difficult few weeks, you wouldn’t have known it by his play. Despite the zero in the goal column, he was one of Team USA’s most visible and active players. He finished the tournament with 19 shots in six games (second to Phil Kessel’s 21), and his brilliant pass to Joe Pavelski helped Team USA beat the Russians in pool play.
He just couldn’t finish. And that’s what’ll stay with him.
‘‘I feel fine,’’ Kane said. ‘‘Physically fine, mentally fine. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple of weeks, but . . . no excuses. I was here to play hockey and try to produce. Didn’t do that. That’s what I’m expected to do in Chicago, too, so I’ll go back and try to do it there.’’