Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane earning the start trophy
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org January 25, 2013 3:56PM
St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks
The facts: 6, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: February 27, 2013 6:14AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Less than four minutes into the season, Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane cocked his stick and fired a one-timer from maybe two feet off the goal line from a nearly impossible angle. He wired the puck perfectly just inside the near post, just under the glove of Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
It was just one of those plays that Kane makes. And through four games, he just keeps making them.
There was the dazzling stickhandling as he waltzed his way through three Phoenix Coyotes before sliding a perfect pass to Dave Bolland for a goal. There was the almost-comical 3-on-0 break he triggered, then finished off against the St. Louis Blues. And then there was Thursday night’s behind-the-back, on-the-tape pass to set up Marian Hossa’s game-winning one-timer in overtime against the Dallas Stars.
Kane was all over the ice against Dallas, and if not for Kari Lehtonen’s spectacular goaltending, Kane might have had two or three goals.
“He’s been playing amazing,” said Hossa, whose five goals lead the league.
Through four games, Kane has two goals and five assists and is as big a reason as any for the Hawks’ 4-0 start, their best in 40 years. It’s nothing new for Kane. He had six points through four games last season, six through six in 2010-11 and seven through five in 2009-10, his career year. But after seeing his numbers drop each of the last two seasons, Kane said during training camp that he was looking to produce more.
“I feel like I’ve always been a good starter to the season,’’ Kane said. ‘‘It’s something I kind of pride myself on, to come in and get off to a good start. I just want to continue it and stay focused and keep doing the right things to help me have the success I’ve had.”
Kane was quick to credit his teammates, saying, “They’re making me look good.” And no doubt, Kane’s getting plenty of help — Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have been strong out of the gate.
Kane’s hot start is emblematic of the team’s hot start. The team and its star winger are playing as if they have something to prove, coming off good — but not great — years. With last season’s squad returning virtually intact, the Hawks — and Kane — feel like they have a shot to redeem themselves after two consecutive first-round playoff exits.
“We were a team that had a good season, had over 100 points, but underachieved a little bit in the playoffs,” Kane said. “We thought we could have had a better season. Take the same group and put them back together, and we’re going to have a chip on our shoulder to prove we can be the team to do something special. Hopefully that’s what we have in here.”
It’s early, of course. And Kane’s hot starts the last three years were each followed by a quiet stretch, including two points in the next six games last season. But it’s a short season, and after Saturday’s game at Columbus, it will be more than 10 percent complete already — “scary to think about,” Kane said.
It’s only the start. But if Kane and Co. keep playing with the same speed, skill and swagger, it could be only the beginning.
“We’ve got to be careful,” Kane said. “It’s a good start — two points every game, which is awesome. But I was reading a stat the other day. In the shortened season last time [1994-95], the New Jersey Devils started out 0-3-1 and ended up winning the Stanley Cup. . . . We just have to keep building on it.”