Never satisfied, Blackhawks Patrick Kane just keeps getting better
Patrick Kane loves challenges.
Reminded a few weeks back about his struggles in January a season ago, Kane was already on top of it.
"It wasn't a good month for me," he admitted. "I had a hot November and December last year and then dropped off in January.
"You have to put more focus on it and start playing well."
So, all No. 88 has done so far this month is put up 7 points in six games, continuing a sizzling pace that has him in line to notch career highs in goals and points.
And that fact comes as absolutely no surprise to his teammates.
"Every year he's bringing another piece of the puzzle," said newest linemate Bryan Bickell.
"I know talking to him and hearing the stories of what he does in the summer to get that extra piece ... he's a guy who's scored a ton of goals in his career and he's looking to get better -- that's what makes him Kaner."
Kane recently notched goal No. 20 to become the first American-born player to have at least 20 goals in his first eight seasons. Two more seasons like that and he'll tie Denis Savard's franchise mark of 10 straight.
"You look at Kaner's career and the way he came into the league as an 18-year-old -- I know he scored 20 or 22 goals, whatever it was -- but he really wasn't a goal scorer at that time," Patrick Sharp said. "He was more of a playmaker, that was his bread and butter.
"You look at him now and he's a threat all over the ice."
Kane is on pace to easily top his previous high mark of 30 goals and 88 points set in 2009-10, and if he can keep the pace going through early April, may even flirt with a 100-point season.
"He's got that next level where you don't know where it's going to go," Bickell said. "He just brings it every night. He's never satisfied.
"He tells me after shifts if, say we score, 'don't be satisfied with one, get as many as you can.' It kind of drives me."
And it makes it fun to play alongside one of the Hawks' five all-stars.
"Yeah, for sure," Bickell said. "His skill-set, his poise ... he's got it all. He doesn't scream or yell, but he likes to have a good time. I like that."
With his 2 assists in Sunday's win over Minnesota, Kane moved into a tie for 10th place with Bill Mosienko in total points with 540 (198 goals, 342 assists).
Kane, who has accounted for some of the biggest goals in team history, has turned up the clutch factor this season with 13 of his 20 goals coming in the third period.
And his 5 game-winning goals have him tied for the top spot in the league with Alex Ovechkin.
"He wants to be out there, he wants the puck," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "He likes to score big goals in big situations.
"He likes to deliver."
And it's precisely that factor which automatically gives Kane a leadership role on the team, albeit a different type.
"He's more of an on-ice leader," Bickell said. "He takes control of games."
When he wants the puck, you can hear it, and everybody knows it. It's a good thing because he wants everyone to hop on his shoulders."