Dietz: Don't blame Kane for Blackhawks' scoring woes
An interesting narrative emerged after the Blackhawks lost for the second straight time Sunday night at the United Center, and it had to do with whether or not Patrick Kane's line is producing enough of late.
A quick look at the numbers seems to indicate Kane needs to pick things up, especially when you note that he has "just" 8 goals and 18 assists through 27 games after producing 16 goals and 26 assists at this time last year.
That's the easy way out, though, and really not fair to Kane, who is still on pace for a 79-point season. He's also been the Hawks' most productive player with Jonathan Toews out of the lineup, registering 2 goals and 4 assists in six games.
There's certainly nothing wrong with a point a game from a team's best player when they are trying to play a simple game and escape with 2-1, 3-2 and even 1-0 victories on a nightly basis.
If this narrative feels familiar, it should because it's the same thing the Hawks tried to do early last season when they were without Duncan Keith for 10 games. During that stretch, the Hawks won their first three games -- including back-to-back 1-0 overtime decisions -- but then went 2-4-1 in the next seven games.
Without Toews, the Hawks managed to go 3-0-1 in their first four games but dropped their last two, scoring a scant 2 goals in the process.
"Sometimes when you're missing a guy right away for a couple games, it might not really show up in the lineup," Kane said. "Guys are excited to get that chance, but the longer you go missing a great player, there's going to be a hole missing. It's nothing we can control."
Kane added it's up to him and the other leaders to make sure the team is playing the right way.
"The onus is on offensive guys to try and produce and take control and create a little bit more out there," Kane said. "It's all across the board, but I think myself personally I want to do a little bit better as far as creating and getting chances. That stems from hard work and getting the puck back."
Which isn't easy when opponents are constantly sending their best D-men out to face Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.
And that's why it's so important for others to step up.
That's exactly what happened in a 4-3 OT win over New Jersey last week when Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson both scored, but that's been about the extent of the secondary scoring of late.
Players suffering long dry spells include:
• Marian Hossa, who has just 1 goal in the last eight games, and that came in OT vs. the Devils.
• Artem Anisimov, with 2 goals in his last 13.
• Richard Panik, 1 goal in the last 21.
• Ryan Hartman, Marcus Kruger, Tyler Motte, Dennis Rasmussen and Vinnie Hinostroza, who have 1 goal between them in the last eight games.
• Duncan Keith, zero goals all season, and Brent Seabrook, 1 in the last 24 games.
Plain and simple, those numbers exist because the Hawks aren't possessing the puck enough. They're chasing, defending and relying on their goaltenders to keep them in games.
Oh, and they're 4-for-47 on the power play in the last 17 games.
Kane knows what the Hawks need to do in Toews' absence ... the question is whether it's easier said than done.
Said Kane: "Whether that's chipping pucks in, trying to get it on the forecheck, getting pucks back, go to the net. I mean, that's the best way to get scoring chances and get shots in this league is try to get it back to the point, get to the net and hopefully get some screens.
"You saw that in the game against New Jersey where we had some goals. It could be a key here for us to try and get some offense going."
Blackhawks vs. Arizona Coyotes at United Center, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WGN 720-AM
The skinny: Maybe this is the game where the Blackhawks get their struggling power play going as the 8-12-4 Coyotes rank dead last with a 68.3-percent kill rate on the road. The Hawks are 4 of 47 on the PP in the last 17 games. ... The Coyotes, who lost 4-1 at Columbus on Monday, have been outscored 52-34 in the second and third periods this season. ... Goalie Mike Smith set a franchise record with 58 saves Saturday in a 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus. It was just the fourth time in the last 25 years a goalie had 58 or more saves in a regular-season game. ... Radim Vrbata (9G, 8A) is the team's leading scorer.
Next: New York Rangers at United Center, 7:30 p.m. Friday
-- John Dietz