MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – Patrick Kane came through the slot alone on Saturday night, firing a shot at Jonathan Quick. The Los Angeles goaltender stopped that one, as well as the rebound shot Kane offered.
It was a frustrating moment, one that Kane has felt over the past three games. The Chicago Blackhawks forward hasn’t scored yet in the Western Conference Final, and it’s something he obviously wants to change.
“I don’t think I’ve played up to par for myself in the first three games of the series,” Kane said following the Blackhawks’ practice on Sunday. “It would be nice to turn that around and play good in Game 4.”
As hard as anyone may be on Kane for his recent scoring slump, it is nowhere near how hard Kane is on Kane. The Blackhawks right wing is aware of his statistics at all times and is always looking to add to them for the good of the team. The opportunities have been there, certainly; they’re just not connecting at the moment. But coach Joel Quenneville likes what Kane’s bringing nevertheless.
“He’s accustomed to scoring. For guys who are scorers, they get more excited, more confidence and play can elevate by looking at production. But Kaner, to me, he’s dangerous,” Quenneville said. “Opponents have to keep an eye on him quite a bit. They’re concerned with him. He gives us some depth overall up front. He’s been a threat. He’s been dangerous. He hasn’t had the production to reflect it, but he’s definitely had some opportunities.”
There’s come a time in postseasons past where Quenneville with throw Kane and Jonathan Toews together, be it to spark the team and/or to capitalize on the one-two punch the duo provides when on the same line. Could that be happening in Game 4 on Monday night? It’s possible; the Blackhawks, however, didn’t skate lines at Sunday’s practice, so nothing will be known until Game 4 warmups.
Toews said Kane’s game is fine, and he anticipates Kane connecting again soon.
“I just think he tends to be harder on himself when he’s not producing or getting the results on paper. It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not playing as well with the puck or not creating anything. He just has to stay with it and once that first one goes in he’ll be back to himself again,” Toews said. “As his teammate, you can see what he brings to the team every single night, whether he scores or not. But for him personally, he’s hard on himself in that way. He wants to contribute. We know it’s just a matter of time before he gets going again.”
It was Game 4 in last spring’s Western Conference Final when Kane broke out of his postseason goal-scoring slump. He tallied a hat trick in Game 5 and would go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for postseason MVP. Kane hasn’t struggled through this postseason like he did the last one; he’s scored six goals, including three game-winners, through the first two rounds. Still, it’s always about what you do lately, and Kane is looking to get a goal, maybe a few, behind Quick.
“You hope history repeats itself and you can do the same thing,” Kane said of that Game 4 last year. “I think scoring a goal like that last year probably propelled me into playing well the rest of the playoffs, but you can’t go into games thinking about scoring, or thinking you’ve got to have a big point night. That’s only going to set you up for failure. The better way to engage it is try to play fast, try to command the puck, try to get in and make plays and hopefully see a result at the end of the night.”