There was a lot to be wowed by in the Blackhawks' upset performance in their Stanley Cup Qualifiers series against the Edmonton Oilers, but for once it wasn't Patrick Kane. It was a very rare occasion where his spin-o-ramas, backhand roofers and no-look passes weren't part of the Hawks' highlight reels.
Kane had four points (one goal, three assists) in the Hawks' qualifying round series vs. the Oilers, pretty good for most players, but at 31 Kane's on-ice ability and offseason dedication still tower over the vast majority of NHL forwards.
During the regular season, he had 84 points (33 goals, 51 assists) in 70 games before the NHL pause, good for eighth in the league.
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"I thought he had his chances. A few were blocked in good situations," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kane's performance in the Oilers series on Monday. "I think he's playing well. Do I believe he'll produce more? Yeah, I do. I think he's a guy that he always comes through in the big moments. We were able to win the series with him not having huge numbers, but I still think he was a big part of our win in the series."
Going back a bit, the superstar winger is in a brief postseason funk. In the Blackhawks' last three playoff series, including this year's qualifying round vs. Edmonton, Kane only recorded three goals on 65 shots, but had phenomenal regular season runs during those stretches.
Kane won the Art Ross and Hart trophies for most points during the regular season and most valuable player during the regular season in 2016, the same year the Hawks lost in the first round to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. In 2017, Chicago was swept by the Nashville Predators, a more devastating first-round exit.
The 2013 playoff MVP and three-time Stanley Cup champ is hoping to turn things around for himself and the Blackhawks vs. the Golden Knights in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning Tuesday.
"I think the important thing for me was I felt like I was starting to find my game a little bit as the series went on against Edmonton," Kane said Monday. "So just try to create chances for myself, my linemates, on the power play... but also at the same time, you got to realize that you are in playoff hockey and it's going to be a little bit tougher to score goals. And it might be a little bit tougher to score goals against a detail-structured team like Vegas. So got to stay patient as well, but it's always fun to play playoff hockey and there's nothing better than scoring in the playoffs and helping your team that way, so try to do that a little bit more this series."
The Knights aren't concerned with Kane's last few postseason series, they know the player's potential, body of work, ability and the threat level he presents, especially with some serviceable youth by his side now.
"You sprinkle in some really good, young talent with some guys that have been all-stars, superstars in our league for quite some time... any time you do that and they start clicking, it makes it difficult to defend against," Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "Patrick Kane is one of the hardest guys to play one-on-one in the league. It's not just defenseman, it's how our forwards pick him up, how our forwards come back hard and help us out that allows us to play our gaps a little bit tighter because that's what's going to frustrate skilled players."