Blackhawks Confidential

Kane needs to have a Slumpbuster Sunday and a Superman finish

I don't usually write on Saturdays, but I'm here with a special public service announcement. Get to bed early Saturday night. Crazy uncle Mike knows best.

It's Blackhawks Savings Time and we can't waste an hour.

There is always a time to lock the liquor cabinet with an eye toward future headiness. You must occasionally ration energy and martinis.

It's going to be one hell of a sprint to the finish, so we can all start over a week from now by preparing for the playoffs.

Sunday afternoon's game with Calgary in United Center marks the first of five games in eight days to bring the regular season to a conclusion next Sunday in Chicago against Detroit in what may or may not be an emotionally upbeat or downbeat fanfare for what's to come.

The Hawks play at Dallas Tuesday and at Colorado Friday night, while hosting St. Louis in between those road games on Wednesday at the UC.

While the most popular answer right now to what the Hawks need to strengthen during the closing days is defense, defense, defense, I believe we can't overlook our offense and that recent slump by Patrick Kane.

Offense, offense, offense can't be underplayed. A lead allows the defense, defense, defense much bigger latitude to take over and squeeze until dead.

And since the Hawks power play is horrible, horrible, horrible, that puts more pressure on even-strength scores and leaves little room for drought periods by leading scorers such as Kane.

Kane has had a tremendous season, but not lately. He doesn't have a point in four straight games and just two goals in his last 15. He is still a plus-13, much better than he recorded last season with a minus-2, but Kane is a minus-8 since March 7, a month of stumbles for him and the Hawks.

You can point the finger at a lot of players that need to step up their games, but Kane gets the most fingers jabbed in his direction because he's the club's top scorer and without him clicking the party will be over sooner than hoped.

Let's face it. Kane can be the life of the party off ice and on. We need him to be an eternal jester.

Kane was a minus-9 last postseason when the Hawks bulled their way to those Western Conference finals before losing to the Red Wings. He has to insure there will be no repeat performance such as that or the Stanley Cup dream vanishes in a puff of smoky illusion.

Everyone worries about Antti Niemi's lack of postseason experience. I would suggest that perhaps your concern is misplaced. What's Kane ever proven in the playoffs?

Kane is a big-time player, but until he reaches and surpasses that great potential on the NHL's biggest stage, he will not have broadened his reputation to the point where he is considered a go-to star that can rise to any occasion.

Coach Joel Quenneville has one week left to decide whether it remains in the team's best interests to play Kane and Jonathan Toews on seperate lines. Q is trying to spread the wealth by playing Toews with Marian Hossa, but is that diminishing Kane?

Kane needs some linemates to work with him, of course, if he is going to turn around this slippage in production and settle down our nerves by returning to form.

His brief history shows that Kane doesn't go this long without erupting in points somewhere and somehow. But that reversal in fortune has to start Sunday against the Flames.

The onus is on Kane to light the lamp and shine a clear path forward to a postseason where he'll be sensational. Because a guy like Kane can't just be pretty good. He has to be great, greater and greatest to meet expectations.

By the way, Patrick, that would be on defense and offense.

So not only Hawks fans should take to the sheets early Saturday night, but I would suggest that the Hawks conduct their first bedcheck of the year to make sure Kane is tucked safe and sound and eject the first 100 women found under his comforter.

Get your rest, Patrick. Your Superman costume is in the closet, dry cleaned and ready for excessive wear and tear. Time to leap tall buildings at a single bound, even if you have to do it alone.

Hard to go it alone in hockey. So I would advise that some teammates bear down and play along with Superman to get him flying right.



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beaverwarrior said:


I agree 100%. Patrick Kane and others need to step up their game.

Dean Youngblood said:


Hey Mike, You should always remember to remember the good as well as the bad. Last post season, Kane allowed some of the bigger defensemen to intimidate him. Those days are gone. When the chips were down, Kane came through with a hat trick in game 6 of the semifinals to help advance the team.

Kane has played pretty good lately even though he has not scored. For example, last night he sent an ideal pass to Bolland, for if it had been to Toews, or Sharp, or even Brouwer, it probably would have gone in. He is setting up some nice plays, but others are not finishing. As others have said, I wish Kane would shoot more, but more times than not when he decides to pass instead of shoot, the pass is the better option.

VegasHawksFan said:


In Kane, the Hawks have an enormous asset and my big question is what they do with it down the road. First Kane plays for Savard, then Q, and now the team has evolved a bit further with the addition of Hossa. Despite doing some real stupid public things, I think Kane has actually progressed very well. From here on out, I tend to think Kane will go as the team goes and neither carry it nor drag it down. Slumps are part of the game and he needs to learn to deal with that too and I hope he can learn how to before playoff time. It was real annoying last year when he kept throwing his hands up in a game when his shots didn't go in. I'd love to see a bust out game on Sunday too, but I'll be happy if he keeps making progress with his new line while tuning up for the playoffs.

Dean Youngblood said:


I agree, Kane is a go-with-the-flow guy. He is not a leader. He is not a mature player. He might be someday in the years ahead.

VegasHawksFan said:


After the fact, I think I more meant to say that in a salary cap world, I think that how you develop players becomes even more important. Toews is the rare kid who is mature beyond his years and is very much the exception. As for Kane, I agree he's immature, but not so immature that I don't think he won't work hard with what's put in front of him. With his skills, no matter what happens, he is going to continue to develop and be a threat for years to come. What I would most like to see though is for this team to really become a system that operates almost on auto pilot. Without that, I'm not sure Kane really becomes the two way player that Hossa is. With the additions of Hossa and Madden this year, I was hoping the team was going to take a bigger leap forward in that regard than it did. We have some very skilled defensemen, but I think the forwards benefit more from the D's offensive skills then the D does the defensive skills of the forwards. Experience definitely helps and they are going to get more again this year in the playoffs. As an armchair coach though, I think Q was a bit lax drilling that in when the D was moving the puck almost effortlessly out of the zone early season. Ultimately for the rest of this season and playoffs, I think Kane will be fine.

LordStanleyOfPreston said:


"What's Kane ever proven in the playoffs?"

Uh, Mike - I ask you to hearken way way back to May 11, 2009; the date of Kane's first career hat trick. It was this very blog that proclaimed "Hawks ride Kane's hat trick to series win" as the headline to it's column on the Blackhawks crucial and thoroughly electric Game 6 series-clinching win over the Canucks.

Kane's performance that night pretty much defines "proving" something in the playoffs.

Mike Kiley said:


My Lord, I guess we need to define what's meant by proven in the playoffs. Kane had some very good moments last season in the playoffs. And he had some very ordinary moments. The bar is set high for Kane by his very extraordinary talents. You'd have to be a dummy to not recognize what Kane can do and has done. But as with every superstar, more and more is expected. Just the nature of the beast. I agree with everyone who said Kane has played pretty good at times without scoring recently. But scoring is what he is paid to do. He needs help and let's hope his teammates are ready to get the most of Kane and Kane is ready to get the most from them.

Mike Kiley said:


Oh, and let me add, I don't give a damn what Kane does off the ice really. He's a kid and kids say and do the damndest things. It makes for good copy, but his antics here and there are often just beside the point of what he is as a player. The Hawks and us fans are damn lucky to have Kane. He has changed the perception of what the team is and what they can be. And what they can be is Stanley Cup champions. And sooner or later with Kane and Toews they will be champions. Let's thank our lucky stars for both of them.

LordStanleyOfPreston said:


As I do (silently) most of the time, I absolutely agree with you here Mr. K. - both posts 100% spot on!

It just seemed uncharacteristically hyperbolic of you to ask what Kane has proven in the playoffs given his performance in Game 6 - remember that most of the so-called experts had predicted Vancouver to roll over the Hawks after the mighty Luongo (heh!) & company swept the Blues. Also remember that Kane was called out publicly in the media by Willie Mitchell after Game 5 as "not able to play 5-on-5."

Thus, the stage was set for a lesser player to stumble and fall, but Kane came through big time. I might also add that the only other players to record hat tricks in the playoffs last year were mere no-names I've never heard of - some guys named Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin...

borg said:


Certainly true that the Hawks need Kane to be great.

That said, some of that plus/minus issue is goaltending and some of it empty-net goals against.

It should also be noted that Kane made the big play and pass to Bolland for the winning goal in Game 5 against the Canucks last year. They lose that game, they probably lose the series.

borg said:


And as I type that, Kane lasers one past Kiprusoff.

If you count the two goals the refs have taken from him, Kane should be past 30 by now.

Dave Morris said:


So, Mike, are you happy yet?

nick61 said:

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Thanx Mike, Kane is not a "kid". According to puberty/nature, he has been a man for around 7-8 years. He is a privileged brat, going by his past behavior. Talented players expect, and get free passes all the time. That is b/c the adoring public needs to get a life, and their priorities straight. I guess I am just too old to idolize these spoiled athletes anymore.
Having said that, he is an entertaining player....ON THE ICE! Last year in Vancouver Toews went and got drunk for his B-day (during the P/Os), and his lousy play reflected that on the ice the next day, when the Hawks LOST. I expect a lot more discipline during the P/Os. The regular/exhibition season is different. Now I know why I don't spend big $$$ to go to the games. If we had a few Cups in the past 50 years, I could be a little more forgiving, but it is getting tiring supporting so much failure. Did you watch Dennis Hull's interview? That was my era, as a fan, and I still got emotional when Dennis talked about losing the '71 Finals, esp. game 7. I AM GOING TO BUY HIS NEW BOOK.
This year the Hawks have the TALENT to win it all. Whether they have the intestinal fortitude, we will see.

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