Patrick Kane lives for the big moments.
But so does Patrick Sharp.
The Blackhawks have two big-game players with the potential to make the difference in the pivotal Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday at the United Center.
The series is tied 2-2 with either the Hawks or Boston Bruins having the opportunity to move a step closer to the Stanley Cup.
“I feel like every time I get asked this question I don't play good,” Kane said Friday. “You always want to step up in big games so hopefully I can do that. It seems like from here on out every game gets bigger and bigger. It's definitely exciting: Stanley Cup Final, series is 2-2, you've got the best of three with two at home.”
On a team filled with stars such as Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, it's Sharp who flies under the radar. But he is just as important to the team as anyone.
“I'm not sure what the people out there are saying, but in here as a group, as a team, we know how important he is,” rookie left winger Brandon Saad said. “He knows that we look up to him and how well he's playing. I don't think it matters what everyone else is saying.
“He's a big-time player. That's what I realized this year is he's shown up in big games. He's had some big goals for us and he's a leader on this team.”
Sharp's 10 goals lead the Hawks in the playoffs and puts him smack in the middle of the Conn Smythe talk as playoff MVP.
Sharp also led the Hawks in goals with 11 when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, but Toews was awarded the MVP.
“I enjoy playing the games that mean a lot,” Sharp said. “I enjoy the big stage, but I think there are a lot of players in this room who would say that. That's the reason why we're back here.”
While some Hawks such as Toews have struggled to score in the playoffs, Sharp has been the team's most consistent producer.
“Sharpie has had a good playoff, and I thought he scored a huge goal for our power play and for himself and for our team (in Game 4),” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The last few games, he seems like he's getting the puck a lot more and getting opportunities around the net. Certain guys get opportunities and certain guys get a little bit more attention than others come playoff time. But like we said all along, we don't care who scores, but we like the fact that he's been productive.”
Quenneville considers Sharp one of his top leaders on and off the ice.
“He's been through it,” Quenneville said. “I think he helps with the younger guys. Knowing that, I think at this stage of the game you don't want to get ahead of your experience, and that experience of past years or a couple years ago is certainly valuable.
“His recognition of those type of guys, where they're at today, is very beneficial for our team and for our staff. Saying the right things, doing the right things.”
Sharp doesn't know what to expect in Game 5 as far as if it will be another high-scoring 6-5 affair or a return to tight checking.
“It was just one of those games where there was a little more room out there,” Sharp said of Game 4. “You can say that suits us well, but we won in overtime so it could have gone either way. They can play a lot of different styles as well. Your guess is as good as mine what's going to happen.”
Sharp is amused by the talk of how the Hawks have “figured out” Bruins 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara, who was on the ice for 5 goals against in the last game.
“That was kind of a fluke game,” Sharp said. “That's not going to happen very often with him. To think that we have anything figured out is ridiculous. He's a great player and I don't think Boston cares that he was on the ice for 5 goals; they'll have him out there every opportunity they can.”
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