Kane looks to redeem himself for the ‘Hawks

By Sam Bauman

After a disappointing 2011-12 season in which he tallied the lowest point total of his career, Patrick Kane has rebounded. Kane leads the team with 42 points, which is also fifth in the NHL.

Kane has proven he can put up these kinds of numbers in the past. When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Kane led the team in points with 88, and also scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime. The two years after that were the worst in his six-year career. A leg injury in the 2010-2011 season slowed his production to only 73 points, and the following season Kane faced off-the-ice distractions along with a constant line-up shuffling which led to a career-low 66 points.

The consistency this year has made all the difference in his play. Last year, head coach Joel Quenneville shuffled Kane between lines and positions, even making Kane a center for a large part of the season. The shuffling most likely had a negative impact on Kane. This year, Kane has spent the entire season playing his natural position of right wing in addition to only playing on the second line. This continuity has allowed Kane to forge out a groove and rhythm with his fellow second line players, and he has reaped the benefits from it.

One of the most beneficial parts of Kane’s game this season has been his improved defensive play. Many Chicago fans have pegged Kane as a defensive liability, but Kane is currently third on the team in takeaways for the Hawks. These numbers really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, as he has some of the best stick handling skills in the game. Kane is utilizing his speed and stick skills to his defensive advantage, which is the type of defensive game that Kane has to play because of his small size in the NHL.

Even with all of Kane’s impressive play, perhaps the best thing about his season thus far has been the lack of off the ice incidents. After the taxi driver debacle and the infamous partying, Kane has seemed to put hockey back as his No. 1 priority. Kane has seemed more focused on the game of hockey, and this has allowed him to fulfill the potential that the Hawks saw in him when they drafted him number one in the draft six years ago.