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Patrick Kane is left out of Blackhawks’ scoring fun

Patrick Kane saw his goal-scoring drought extended seven games Wednesday night.  |  Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Patrick Kane saw his goal-scoring drought extended to seven games on Wednesday night. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 21, 2012 8:34AM



The big, bad Buffalo Sabres were in town Wednesday night, and if that sounds like a weak motivational tool, you haven’t been paying attention to Patrick Kane’s scoring slump.

The Blackhawks have tried all sorts of methods to locate the missing Kane. Moving him from center back to right wing. Reuniting him with Jonathan Toews. Intimating he might want to play harder, especially on defense.

They thought a Jan. 5 trip to Philadelphia might help. It was the team’s first visit there since Kane’s Stanley Cup-winning goal in June 2010. Surely the good vibes were still there, waiting to jump start his dead engine. Right?

He scored in that game.

Then he went six games without a goal.

That brought us to Wednesday. The thinking had shifted to the next possible cure: Maybe playing against his hometown team would be enough to snap Kane out of it, light a fire, awaken a sleeping giant. Buffalo — the healer of woebegone wingers! Who knew?

Toews had two goals in the Hawks’ 6-2 victory at the United Center. Andrew Shaw had a goal. So did Marian Hossa. And Jimmy Hayes. And Dave Bolland.

I think Brian Scalabrine might even have scored.

But not Kane.

Kaner the Entertainer couldn’t be plainer these days.

While we’re into bad rhymes, what sounds like “slump?’’ Would “minor speed bump’’ best describe what Kane is going through? Or does “toxic waste dump” better capture the seriousness of this?

Either way, he’s looking for answers. So are the Hawks. So is anyone who wonders what is happening to one of the anchors of the franchise.

During Wednesday night’s national broadcast, NBC analyst/blowhard Mike Milbury accused Kane of lollygagging on one play. He also said the Hawks star appeared to lack confidence and seemed depressed.

“He’s kind of been all over me for a lot of things,’’ Kane said. “I just don’t really pay attention to those things. From what I hear, they have one guy on the air that kind of praises everyone, and one guy who doesn’t.’’

If the ultra-assured Kane suddenly is devoid of confidence, then maybe the Mayans were right about the impending end of the world. But his confidence certainly has been dented.

“When you go two, three, four games without scoring a goal, even the best goal-scorers can doubt themselves a little bit,’’ Toews said. “I don’t think anyone would get that full confidence back until they start scoring on a regular basis.’’

Kane has had one goal since Dec. 20, a span of 14 games. In the last 28 games, he has three goals.

If the hometown-team angle wasn’t motivation enough, maybe playing against a team that had lost nine consecutive road games might be the answer. No. Kane had several scoring opportunities and the aforementioned goose egg.

It hasn’t helped that the Hawks have been brutal on the power play of late.

They have one of the best records in hockey, so what’s the big deal? They need Kane. With Patrick Sharp out with a fractured wrist, they need him more than ever. They’ll need him if they want to win another Cup.

He’ll come out of this because natural-born scorers usually do. And he has a history of going through and coming out of dry spells. Then again, ever since Adam Dunn’s home-run slump, people get nervous at the first sign of a few bad games in a row and the development of facial tics in their heroes.

You think of Kane, you think of all sorts of possibilities. That he might lead the NHL in scoring. That he might lead the league in shirtless limo rides. But of all the possibilities, scoring just one goal in the last 14 games would seem to be the most farfetched. But there it is.

The other night, he had what looked like a sure goal until Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a spectacular diving glove save off a 2-on-1.

Kane said he didn’t know whether to smile or cry afterward. Crying was probably the way to go.

Opponents still respect him with the puck on his stick. More than that, they’re still afraid of him with the puck on his stick. You could see that Wednesday night. But it hasn’t translated into points.

“He’s just got to stick with it and remind himself he’s one of the best players in this league and around the world,’’ Toews said. “He’s got nothing to worry about.’’

But after seven scoreless games in a row, nothing is exactly what Kane has to worry about.



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