Patrick Kane sucks now.
Things were different a week ago, when Kane propelled the Blackhawks into the Western Conference Final with his second overtime winner and sixth goal of the playoffs. In the process, he proved his clutchness once again, inserted himself back into the "best players in the world" conversation, and reminded the hockey community that he's an elite game-breaker.
But now his game appears broken. Three games on, with Kane having failed to add to his goal total, or even registered a single point in Round 3, and finishing a minus-2 in back-to-back Chicago losses, the question is no longer "Is Kane the best in the world?"
Now it's "Why does Patrick Kane suck so much?"
This is a fickle game. God help you when the hockey world decides to take stock of its best players. Only your last seven days will be considered. And in the last seven days, Kane hasn't done much.
It's not entirely his fault, mind you. The Kings have played him well, keeping him as far away from Jonathan Quick as possible. In Game 3, he was on the ice for just 8 shots for the Blackhawks, and 18 against. In other words, He spent most of his 21 and a half minutes of icetime in his own end.
Drew Doughty talked Monday about taking Kane's space away, but that's not really it. It's more about taking his zone away. He's deadly in the offensive zone.
Inside the Chicago blueline, however? That's a tough shot.
Still, a quiet Patrick Kane is a scary Patrick Kane. It's like when the soundtrack drops out in a horror movie. You know something is about to jump out at you. As Darryl Sutter noted on the morning of Monday night's big Game 4, the chances are slim that Kane is going to remain silent. From the LA Times:
“We’ve been doing a good job but we know he’s going to play his best game tonight so we have to pay special attention to him.”
The slightest slip-up could create an opening that Kane will exploit.
“Kane is a scary guy. We talk about it all the time,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “You know what, the more you play him, the more you know it's coming somewhere. We're very familiar with him and we're very respectful of what he brings to the team.
Sutter's right. Kane is due. A bad week does not a bad player make. Kane remains one of the game's most skilful stars, with moves so sweet they call him Patrick "Sugar" Kane (or at least they should). The Kings will be fortunate if this series ends before he can remind the short-sighed hockey community once again.
If and when he breaks out, he's bound to break out in a big way. Both the Blues and the Wild fell victim to a multi-goal game from Kane. You'd have to think the chances are pretty good that the Kings will too, if they're not careful.
The difference in Games 2 and 3? The Blackhawks made mistakes with Jeff Carter on the ice. If LA does the same with Kane anywhere near the puck, they're likely to suffer similarly.
Kane's next shot at redemption is Monday night at the Staples Center.