2009-2010 Player Preview: #88 Patrick Kane

2008-2009 Recap

Before the season, there were significant concerns across Hawk Nation that the 2007-2008 Calder Trophy Winner, Patrick Kane, may suffer from a significant sophomore slump.  Those concerns were short-lived as Kane came out of the gate firing on all cylinders.  By the seventh game, he already racked up 8 points.  Keep in mind, this was before Marty Havlat became Christ on Skates and Jonathan Toews was in the middle of a horrendous goal-scoring slump to open the season.

It wasn’t just by the numbers, either.  Watching Kane in the early going of his second season, it was quite apparent that he spent his summer working on his speed and shooting.  Kane had an extra gear he never had in his rookie season.  His shot had improved nearly ten-fold.  After going through his rookie year with pop gun wrists, he was now picking out corners with some steam coming off the puck.

In the first 33 games of the season, he notched 16 goals and 25 assists.  Then on December 30th, Kane got his ankle caught along the boards while trying to avoid a check from Detroit’s Daniel Cleary.  What resulted was the dreaded high ankle sprain.  With the Winter Classic two days later, Kane rushed himself back, re-aggravated the injury during the game, and missed the next two games.

The extra gear Kane sported at the beginning of the year was mostly lost and his numbers began reflecting that.  In the remaining 47 games, he scored only 9 more goals to go along with 20 assists. 

Just like in his rookie season when he went through a dry spell of 2 goals in 28 games, he fell victim to another slump when scored only 1 goal in a 21-game period spanning from December 26th to February 17th.  What made this drought even worse was that he only had 5 assists during that time frame. 

Another important part of his game in the regular season is his scoring touch in shootouts.  His rookie season he was nearly automatic with 7 goals in 9 shots.  This past season, he came back down to Earth with 3 goals in 9 shots.  When it comes to grabbing that extra point, a skill like this shouldn’t be dismissed. 

Once the playoffs came around, many fans were worried (once again) that the rough and tumble playoffs would be too much for the gentle Kane.  Then in Game 1, Rene Bourque delivered a huge (and definitely cheap) hit to Kane.  He looked visibly groggy after the hit.

He came back from the hit though and ended up with 4 points in the 6 game set with Calgary (though he only played in 5 games, he sat out Game 3 with the flu), including a huge goal and assist in the Game 6 clincher.

In the Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Vancouver Canucks felt it was in their best interests to let Patrick Kane be the one who beats them.  Bad idea.  In the 6 game series, Kane scored 6 goals with 2 assists.  He set up the game-winning goal in Game 5 when he found Dave Bolland on the doorstep with less than 8 minutes to go.  Then, Kane saved his best performance for the final game when he scored a hat-trick.  Two of the goals will be seen on the United Center Jumbotron throughout this season.

After seeing what happens when defenses don’t key on Kane, Detroit made a point of using Niklas Lidstrom to shut him down in the Conference Finals.  And shut him down he did.  It wasn’t until Game 5 when Kane finally had more than an inch of breathing room that he scored his first goal against the Wings.  It was a beauty and set up the overtime where the Hawks would eventually lose.

If many in the Hawks organization feel this was a “so-so” playoff performance, I’d hate to see what they think of the rest of their team.

Patrick Kane’s 2009-2010 will be a success if…

He avoids prolonged scoring slumps.  So far in both of his two seasons, Kane has gone an extended period without scoring any goals.  If he wants to become a true elite player in the NHL, then this has to stop.  In his defense, in one of the years, he was going through his first season, and in the next, he was battling a nagging ankle injury.  Now, there are no more excuses.  So what better time to deliver the goods that someone of his talent level promises.

He increases his even-strength goal total.  There’s no doubt that Patrick Kane will score on the power-play.  In his two year career, 20 of his 46 goals have come with the man advantage.  In order to become an even bigger scoring threat, he has to be just as dangerous with 5-on-5 play.  So far, he’s been simply ok.  Again, to get himself on the level of the elite scorers, this number needs to improve.

Patrick Kane’s 2009-2010 will be a disappointment if…

This is his swan song in the Indian Head.  I have a feeling we’re going to spend countless hours this winter trying to explain to people how restricted free agency works in the NHL.  For whatever reason, there’s countless fans who feel the Hawks would be better off without Kane on the team.  How or why they conceived this notion is something that most of us are still trying to figure out.  Put it this way, to lose the number one overall pick after only three seasons would be an absolute abomination.

He doesn’t improve his defensive zone play.  Going into his third season, Kane has to show marked improvement in the defensive zone.  His +/- numbers in the playoffs don’t show it, but Kane was a far more responsible player in his own end.  Gone were his lazy turnovers from the regular season and off the top of my head, I can only remember him taking one penalty that forced me to facepalm.  If he can carry this over, then he’ll be that much better of a player.  If not, then he’ll remain the one and a half-dimensional player that he currently is.

____________________________________

Patrick Kane certainly had the most eventful off-season of any Blackhawk player in quite some time.  His run-in with the law will likely define the early part of his season.  How he deals with that will be an interesting character study. 

Ultimately though, all that really matters is if A.) his teammates don’t want to kill him and B) he produces on the ice.  If that happens, then this summer will only be an ugly footnote in his career.

The more important thing to watch for will be if this is the year Kane makes ‘The Leap’ into the upper echelon of NHL talent.  So far, he’s proven that 70 points is no big deal.  Now the question becomes, can he improve even more on those numbers or have we seen his ceiling? 

Something tells me, though, when a 20 year-old scores 70+ points in consectutive seasons, we’re only starting to see the beginning of what his potential truly holds.       

 

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13 Responses to 2009-2010 Player Preview: #88 Patrick Kane

  1. blackhawkbob says:

    You hit it on the head; Kane definitely has one of the game’s most underrated shots. He’s very much a threat from everywhere, and with a shot like that, I think the even strength points will come.

  2. Lou says:

    I agree. When he was aggressive especially on the PP from the dot he scored some nice goals. He has to stop some of the pouting when he hits the pipe and just play. That will come with maturity.

    I don’t think the Hawks will let him get away without a fight

  3. Lee says:

    Just got thru reading Hockeyfights.com re tough guys. It seems that every team has one or two ga,es as they call them and we have none. I know a lot of you feel it is not neccessary but who is going to drop the gloves with the true heavyweights. We have none and the only one in the system, we did not sign and that was Richard Greenop and he went to toronto.

  4. John says:

    @Lou- I don’t care what kind of fight they put up, they can’t let him get away just yet. My feeling is that he has to remain a Blackhawk until he’s 28. Then we can all re-gauge where he belongs. Not doing that could set the franchise back a few more years.

    @Lee- You read a piece on Hockeyfights.com that having guys who fight are important. That is shocking.

  5. Lou says:

    @ John, I agree they have to fight but some of it is going to be him and what he wants to do. I hope he is around for a while. But I hope Toews is around until they put 19 next to 21 in the rafters.

    First game is 8 days away, preseason or not it is hockey!!!!

  6. John says:

    I disagree, as a restricted free agent, the ball will be mostly, if not all, in the Blackhawks court. If he were unrestricted, I’d agree with you.

  7. Lee says:

    John

    Do you honestly believe that there is no need for the hawks to have a enforcer type?

  8. John says:

    Lee, you obviously haven’t gotten tired of beating this dead horse. Who’s the Red Wings enforcer?

    The game is evolving. You can’t waste roster spots with no-talent hacks. I’m sure Minnesota fans love seeing Derek Boogaard skate 6 minutes a night so he can fight once every two weeks. That seemed to work real well for the Wild last year.

  9. Lou says:

    @JOHN, true on the RFA aspect; but you have two schools right now in RFAs Dubinsky, I am gonna play and earn it or Kessel f-u Boston. I hope Kane is more like Dubinsky than Phil. The challenge is to get it done and get it done before it turns into a circus. Like you, I think it will.

    As for the enforcer, we need tough team guys that protect AND contribute, we don’t need guys like Boogaard or Dan “254 PIM” Carcillo. Sure if you can get me Probert in his prime with 30 goals or Secord in his 50 goal year, I’d say maybe but a guy that get less than 15 points in a season, plays three shifts a game and then sits for the playoffs is wasted salary cap space and roster space for the 3 or 4 games a year you need them. I am with John on that one

    We pounded Vancouver even with the hair pulling. Detroit out hit the Haw
    ks without a big time enforcer. You can play physical without being a frigging caveman on skates!

  10. Tom says:

    Can we really see the end of the “P-Kizzle” reign in an Indian head? I hope not. Especially like you said, after only three years. It will only leave a blackeye on the franchise, one that looks like it was given to them by an enforcer that we lack….

  11. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen, you make a cogent case for keeping Kane.

    (Howzat for alliteration, eh.)

    Seriously, why do fans want to toss the most talented pure scorer and playmaker on the Blackhawks overboard? Whining about his defensive zone play and his cockiness, ignores the fact the kid knows where the net is and makes the opposition look bad with his slick–and timely–goals.

    Ask Bobby Lu what he thinks of Twenty Cent. Watch Bobby Lu cry.

    Kane is one of those rare players who can change a game with a single laser beamed biscuit.

    OK, he’s not Milan Lucic in the fisticuffs department. Heck, he’s not even Stan Mikita. So what? The Hawks have plenty of big guys to take care of business. Reggie Fleming did it back in the day, and Benny Eager has the tools to do what’s right.

    Hossa, Toews, Kane, Sharp and Versteeg can all score 25 or more goals this year. Hope that they do.

    And Stan Bowman’s no fool. He’ll make the right decisions come contract time. That’s what he gets paid for, and that’s what he’s been groomed to do by one of the smartest minds in hockey.

    Relax, Hawkey people. Cheer for Patrick Kane. Forget the boondoggle in Bufflalo. Remember the Calder Trophy winner and the hat-trick that nuked the Nucks.

    Enjoy the season.

  12. cb says:

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who will be referring to Kane as 20 Cent for at least the next two years (assuming his name isn’t on the Stanley Cup at the end of the 09/10 season). We should add that to your list of success/disappointment….no more fisticuffs over .20 change.

    Actually, the fact that you didn’t put that on your list is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this site. Nice work, guys.

  13. Bob in EP says:

    50 goals this season and I will stop taunting him.

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