Prime spot for Kane to show he's a primo goal-scorer

This has been a different Patrick Kane this year, and this is the series to underscore that.

Many opponents are treating Kane differently this season, and this is the series to take advantage of it.

I don’t know how the Red Wings will try to defend him, but many opponents have gone away from trying to physically abuse the smallish Blackhawks winger and chosen to try to contain him.

Most notably, the Phoenix Coyotes targeted Kane for a pounding and delivered in last year’s playoffs. The physical abuse by the Coyotes apparently was so bad that Kane landed face down in Madison, Wisc. Or something like that.

That’s what you do to players with Kane’s wondrous puck skills, especially when those players might not be tall enough to ride Space Mountain.

But then something changed. Kane changed. Kane became better.

After playing in Switzerland during the lockout, Kane returned from his European vacation in great shape, seemingly the strongest of his NHL career. He combined terrific jump and speed with brilliant decision-making. He passed when that was the right play, and he shot when that was the right play, and one of the best stickhandlers in the game also showed off a new level of sleight-of-stick magic.

What happened was, a lot of teams began to give Kane the Pavel Datsyuk treatment. Opponents focused on surrounding him in some loose confederation of forwards and defensemen. Nobody ran him. Specifically, nobody ran out of the flow of the game to hit Kane because nobody wants to get pantsed in front of 20,000 people. Room is respect in the NHL.

Room tends to disappear each round of the playoffs, but Kane has shown a special kind of shiftiness and playmaking this year that seemed to make him dangerous almost every shift. He certainly was a force every time he was on the ice against Minnesota, collecting five assists in five games, and I would expect more of the same this series, even though Detroit is a better team.

But here’s the deal: The Hawks need Kane to finish.

It’s all well and good for Kane to essentially play center once Michal Handzus or Dave Bolland takes the faceoff because Kane arguably stands as the most gasp-inducing passer in the league. But it’s about scoring goals, and Kane’s one playoff goal since potting the Stanley Cup winner in 2010 is one of the big reasons the Hawks have lost two of their last three playoff series.

This new round, however, brings a new belief that Kane will become that goal-scoring fiend we saw when the season began. Specifically, Kane ought to find some good chances against the Wings defensemen.

There is no Nicklas Lidstrom --- glory, glory, hallelujah --- and while there is a Niklas Kronwall, so heads up, this is the spot Kane and the Hawks can exploit. Two Wings defensemen just got their first seven games of playoff experience, and one of them came out with a minus-3. Another kid forced into the lineup has played just three games. One veteran doesn’t have much of a playoff resume, while another veteran among the top four defensemen is a minus-player this postseason.

After struggling to beat a brawny Anaheim team, the Wings and that defense will face greater speed and talent starting tonight. Truth is, this is not just a spot the Hawks can exploit, but one they must.

I’m talking five-on-five and the power play. Especially the power play. The Wings’ penalty killing surprisingly ranks last among surviving playoff teams. This is the time the Hawks ought to improve that 15.4 power-play conversion rate.

Kane has one goal in his last 18 playoff games. This is the series that has to change. This is the series that the Hawk with the party reputation turns into DJ Cheslea Dagger.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...

  • One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    One dead in Heart of Chicago after being shot by police

    A 29-year-old man died after being shot by police on the Lower West Side early Saturday, police said.