Patrick Kane has vowed before to take his game to the next level, but now he’s backing up his words with action.
With 2 more assists on Thursday, including his much talked about behind-the-back pass to Marian Hossa for the game-winning goal in overtime, Kane has 7 points in the Blackhawks’ first four games.
If going to play in Switzerland during the lockout is what Kane needed to gain that added confidence, the Hawks must be glad he went.
“I’m just trying to say never give up, don’t quit here,” Kane told reporters after the win in Dallas. “I’m getting the opportunity to play with some great players and sometimes they’re making me look good. It helps a lot to play with players like that and I give them all the credit.”
So far coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to make Dave Bolland the second line center on a line with Kane and Patrick Sharp looks like genius. The trio is a threat to score any time they’re on the ice and already have combined for 6 goals.
Kane is also making a difference on the power play, which connected three times against Dallas and is 6-for-20 for the season.
“Last year I played with him and he did it a few times, the behind the back,” Hossa said. “You just have to be ready because he’ll find you.”
Quenneville thinks Kane is playing some of his best hockey in years. Kane scored just 23 goals last season, his lowest output since getting 21 his rookie year in 2007-08.
“Kaner is going,” Quenneville said. “He wants the puck, he has some speed and he’s shooting the puck better.”
The Hawks’ 4-0 start is their best in 40 years. The last time they were 5-0 was in 1971-72.
“We’ve got to be careful too,” Kane said. “It’s a good start, but I was reading a stat the other day that in the last short season (1994-95), the Devils started 0-3-1 and won the Stanley Cup. It’s a good start, but we’ve got to stay with it and keep building our confidence.
“It’s a short season, we know that, so for us to get off to a start like this is important, especially with all the road games.”
Defenseman Duncan Keith has been around long enough to know how quickly it can turn the other way.
“We’ve talked about having a good start, but it’s not something we’re sitting here thinking we’re proud of,” Keith said. “It’s four games into the season and there’s a lot of hockey left here. We’re glad we’ve got 2 points in every game, but we know there’s still a lot of room for improvement. As long as we keep getting better that’s what we’re focused on.”
Goalie Corey Crawford appears on top of his game, winning his first three starts. Crawford had to be good at Dallas to keep the Hawks in the game with Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen stopping everything at the other end.
“I can’t start thinking about that, what he’s doing,” Crawford said. “I’m just focused on when they’re coming down in my end.”
Crawford says everyone is chipping in at this point, but it’s the Hawks’ best players who are leading the way.
“I think that’s the key,” Crawford said. “Our top players are getting it done offensively. It’s a great start for us, but we’ve got to keep it going. We can’t relax or be satisfied. We just have to keep it going.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.