Hey, look! Patrick Kane!
Yeah, that Patrick Kane!
The one who scores big goals!
Heck, the one who scores goals, period.
Kane scored the winner against the evil Red Wings in the Blackhawks’ gotta-have-it 2-1 win in Detroit on Sunday.
What’s more, Kane did it with a display of that dazzling talent that has disappeared for long stretches this season. Kane went to the tough area of the Detroit slot just outside the crease, took a short, hot pass from Patrick Sharp, quickly saw he had no shot, then brilliantly went to his backhand and beat goalie Jimmy McDonald late in the second period.
Spectacular, timely and important. Yeah, that’s the Patrick Kane I remember.
Before the trade deadline, I wrote that Kane was 50th in NHL salary and tied for 119th in goals. Just to clarify: not a good thing. Kane was First-Team All-Overrated. Or maybe First-Team All-Overhyped or All-Overpaid. Whatever, Kane was the poster child for an underachieving Hawks team. The little guy was coming up, yep, little.
Compare and contrast with the equally paid and commercialized Jonathan Toews, injured but not forgotten. Kane doesn’t kill penalties like Toews. Kane doesn’t always take faceoffs or dominate the dot like Toews. Kane doesn’t score like Toews.
Problem is, the only thing Kane can do is score. That’s the only way he can make a difference. Sure, he can backcheck, take his man, execute the defensive-zone principles that Joel Quenneville has stressed since he replaced Denis Savard a Stanley Cup ago.
But wise up, Kane has to score goals. Big goals. Like the shorthander against Nashville in the 2010 playoffs. Like the Cup winner in overtime in Philadelphia. Like the hat trick that wiped out the universally loathed Canucks the postseason before they won the Cup.
He wasn’t doing it this season. Score big goals? Heck, he couldn’t outscore Viktor Stalberg.
If Kane was going to produce virtually nothing when the team desperately needed him to score, then you had to wonder out loud how much will he fall off in a year or two when his no-movement clause kicks in?
If the Hawks had traded Kane to Columbus for Rick Nash at the deadline a week ago, I’d have led the parade, and I believe there would’ve been a lot of people lining up behind me.
But something happened at the trade deadline. The passing of the trade deadline, actually. It’s as if Kane woke up surprised to find himself still a hood ornament for the Hawks.
In the first game after a deadline when a lot of relieved players go on holiday, Kane registered a goal and assist in a big comeback against the Maple Leafs. Before that, Kane had one multi-point game in his last 17.
Then came Sunday’s game-winner, Kane’s third goal in four games. Before that, it took him 16 games to manage three goals.
Kane has been centering a line that has included Marian Hossa and sometimes Sharp. Whoever has been on that other wing, Kane’s line has been the Hawks’ most dynamic of late. Kane seems to have more jump. He has shown more speed. He has been dangerous --- the most dangerous he has been all season.
At the same time, even without the likely concussed Toews, the Hawks are playing their tightest and smartest hockey of the season. Small sample size, yeah, but I’m trying to b e Stevie Sunshine here, people.
The victory in Detroit marked the Hawks’ second 2-1 straight win on this three-game road trip against playoffs teams. They beat the evil Wings on Sunday the same way they defeated Ottawa on Friday --- they checked, they skated, they took advantage of opportunities on their dogbreath power play, they got another huge game from their goalie, and their best players were their best players. A perfect road game.
Heck, a perfect playoff game.
This is the way the playoff race is going to be for the next five weeks. It will be spectacular, timely and important if Kane continues to play like a big boy, especially with Toews out.
No, check that: It will be demanded, especially with Toews out.
This little run might be just a spike in an uneven season for Kane and the Hawks. Or it might be that Kane has watched Toews lead in so many ways for so long that the Hawks’ little boy finally is growing up.Copyright © 2015, RedEye