Maybe it was talking with his dad Patrick Sr. that helped. Or maybe it was talking with his dad while watching a video of his previous playoff goals, the ones that used to come so easily for Patrick Kane in the playoffs.
Then again, it could have been the sushi.
Whatever the explanation, Kane will take it. He’s a goal scorer again, a player with some jump in his game and some snap in his shot. What he did Thursday night wasn’t the only reason why the Chicago Blackhawks took a 3-2 decision off the Los Angeles Kings, but it didn’t hurt.
In a Game 4 Chicago had to play without its top defenceman Duncan Keith, sidelined by a one-game suspension, the ‘Hawks produced a sturdy defensive effort while Kane, scoreless in his previous seven games, finally netted a goal to help his side to a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.
It wasn’t the most dynamic goal Kane has ever scored. It was more like a shuffle-board push of the puck into an open net. But it was timely (coming late in the second period); it tied the score (at 2-2) and it had Kane grinning on the ice when teammate Bryan Bickell skated up to him and said, “Sushi.”
As Kane explained it, being in a slump means you’re obliged to try anything to get out of it. You talk to your dad and watch videos of all your goal-scoring highlights “looking for anything, the way they defend, the way I play. Anything,” he said. Then you go one step further and copy what the hottest scorer on your team has been doing – eating sushi before every game.
Kane told CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada he had joined teammate Bryan Bickell for some Japanese cuisine, on a whim if nothing else. He ended up robbing Bickell of a second goal Thursday by touching the puck before it slid into the L.A. net.
“I told Bicksy I was kind of sorry I stole it from him,’” Kane said afterwards. “It might have went in. Kind of instinctive when you see the puck there to stick your stick in and touch it.”
Overall, Kane liked the way he responded in Game 4, finishing with seven shots on goal while drawing a key penalty.
“I think the biggest thing was just trying to get the puck any way I could, skate with it … I thought I did a good job of that,” said Kane. “Got a lot of support from coaches or teammates that want you to have the puck, that want you to start skating with it and moving it. It’s a big part of our game.”
And now that his scoring slump is over and his confidence returning, you have to wonder how the ‘Hawks will feed off Kane’s revival. Could be there’s a bigger crowd joining Bickell and Kane for sushi this week.
Two Incidents, Different Takes
Gregory Campbell, the Boston Bruins’ forward who finished a shift playing on a broken leg, is earning lavish praise for his teeth-grinding determination, and rightly so. What he did Wednesday inspired his team. As the well-worn movie line goes, bones heal, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever.
Yet what about Pittsburgh Penguin Brooks Orpik taking a thunderclap hit from Milan Lucic and returning to action only to be beaten on the winning goal in double overtime?
No one is questioning Orpik’s desire to win or to play hard, but he looked dazed after the Lucic hit, staying in one spot for several seconds as if trying to regain his thoughts. When he returned to the bench, he sat there and waited for his next shift.
Where was the required trip to the quiet room for observation in case he had suffered a concussion? Where was the medical intervention, the player being told to sit for his own good? We’re not talking about a fractured leg bone; we’re talking about a possible brain injury.
Orpik didn’t miss a shift, probably because he said he was fine. (He could be seen shaking his head in response to some sort of question.) Coach Dan Bylsma insisted Thursday his veteran defenceman “doesn’t have ramifications of the hit last night.” That’s a standard response. Remember how Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter uttered much the same words after Mike Richards took a late hit from Chicago’s Dave Bolland. The next day, Sutter said Richards was “fine.” Richards took a skate; he wasn’t fine and hasn’t played since.
No doubt, the Stanley Cup playoffs are about losing teeth and getting stitches and dealing with pain. But sometimes players have to be protected for their own good, and when everyone wants to win so badly, that’s a balance that’s not always kept.
Overtime: A True Tale
As a follow to the Bruins-Penguins double OT thriller, we bring you a story from the 1987 quadruple overtime Game 7 finale between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.
On that night and early morning, the two teams played on and on hoping, praying for an outcome. Pat LaFontaine, who scored the eventual winner for the Islanders, described the entire experience as being surreal.
“I remember looking into the stands and they were half empty and some of the people still there were sleeping. They played the Twilight Zone music and it was one of those moments where you wonder, ‘Is this really happening?’”
It was what happened between OT periods that helped the Islanders win.
“We had no blow dryers (to dry out sweaty equipment), nutritional drinks, nothing. You’re talking 26 years ago,” said LaFontaine. “We lay on the floor and put our feet on the benches to rest our legs. I asked our trainer to see if we had any oxygen. Washington was kind enough to let us use oxygen to get our breath back. So for the third and fourth overtimes, we used it.”
You mean your rivals actually assisted you? In the playoffs?
“From what I heard, the trainer got fired after we asked for it,” LaFontaine said. “I don’t think it went over too well.”
Credit the Dallas Stars for the best Twitter response to Gregory Campbell’s display of ultimate toughness:
It launched a wave of imitators and many laughs.