Kane’s Streak is Blackhawks’ Salvation
As the NHL season began, we wondered if the off-ice controversy surrounding Patrick Kane would affect his play and the chances of the Chicago Blackhawks. Here’s the latest: controversy dead; Kane cruising; Blackhawks doing OK. In fact, were it not for Kane, the Blackhawks would be in trouble.
Summer Soap Opera
Not to revive the whole sordid affair, but the summer controversy over rape allegations against the star forward was messier than a bench-clearing brawl. There was a possible hoax surrounding evidence, refutable DNA testing, and a grand jury hearing scheduled, then delayed, then dropped. Finally last month, the whole case was dropped, with the New York prosecutor saying the assault case was “rife with reasonable doubt.”
Kane has zoomed through it all like he skates through defenders. The star winger extended a point-scoring streak to 23 games on Tuesday night with an open-net goal against the Nashville Predators. It was the 600th point of his career. In the long history of the NHL, a 23-game point streak doesn’t seem to stand out. Wayne Gretzky had 51. But that was Gretzky, and that was the 1980s. With today’s zone traps and high-end goal keeping, the feat is much more impressive. Over the last ten years, only Sidney Crosby (25) and Henrik Zetterberg (24) have surpassed Kane’s current run.
With Kane as the center of attention, he’s had help in getting his team to a third-place standing in the Central Division, 10 points behind the streaking Dallas Stars. Surprisingly, most of that help has come from little-known winger Artemi Panarin. The undrafted 24-year-old Panarin stepped out of a KHL uniform and into the ‘Hawks colors with amazing success. He’s second behind Kane on the team’s list of scorers with 28 points (Kane has 43), and has filled in nicely while the team has trouble getting scoring elsewhere. Though the Blackhawks have had their share of fits and starts over the course of the season, the defending Stanley Cup champs have managed to put themselves solidly in the playoff hunt.
All of this may come to a crashing halt if the Blackhawks don’t get that added scoring help. But for now, Chicago fans should celebrate their good fortune.
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