CALGARY, Alberta — As the Blackhawks stumble down the stretch, Patrick Kane has more important things to worry about than his own individual stats. But on the other hand, as Kane goes, so goes the Hawks offense — especially this season. So somewhere in the back of his mind, he still has his sights set on 100 points.
He needs eight points over the last eight games to get there.
“You don’t really want to think about it when you’re on the ice playing, but I think it’s one of those things — you’re this close and you’re within reach, you might as well try to get it done,” said Kane, whose previous career high was 88 points, set in 2009-10. “That’s kind of what I’m counted on to do on this team, is to try and produce scoring chances and points, and it’s a good measuring stick of how you’re playing offensively. You try not to think about it when you’re playing, but I think in the back of my mind and maybe some other people’s, too, it’s one of those things you hope happens.”
A hundred points seemed like a given for Kane not too long ago. In mid-January, he was on pace for 50 goals and about 120 points — a mark nobody has reached since Sidney Crosby did it in 2006-07. And as recently as March 2, Kane was on pace for 47 goals and 111 points. Kane is still 10 points ahead of Jamie Benn in the scoring race, and is a near lock to become the first American to win the Art Ross Trophy. But like the rest of the team, Kane has been in a funk lately, with just a goal and two assists in his last seven games entering Saturday night’s game in Calgary. He has six games without a point in March; he had just 11 such games in the first five months of the season.
It’s a big reason why Joel Quenneville gave Kane three full days off before the trip to Calgary. As Quenneville put it, it made up for the fact that Kane didn’t get the All-Star break off, as the rest of his teammates did. Kane said Saturday morning that the rest helped.
“It’s just nice to kind of get away from everything and put hockey in the back of your mind for a couple of days,” he said. “You come to the rink today and you’re excited. You’re excited to get back on the ice and try to get ready for the stretch run. Most teams probably wouldn’t do [that], but you’re kind of looking toward the future, to refuel and reenergize and get yourself ready. It was very beneficial for me.”
Kane’s line has carried the Hawks offense for much of this season, but its production has dipped lately. Artemi Panarin had just two assists in his last six games entering Saturday (dropping him to a tie for 12th among NHL forwards; if he places in the top 10, he’ll earn a bonus that will count an extra $1.725 million against next year’s salary cap). And Artem Anisimov had just one goal and five assists in his previous 18 games.
So everyone on the team wants to see Kane reach 100 points, and then some. But not for the sake of individual records. The Hawks simply need the goals.
“It hasn’t been discussed,” Quenneville said of the milestone. “it would be a nice achievement. I know if he reaches that, it’ll help our team game. Him with the puck and him generating offense for us was our driving force for the majority of the season. When we had a lot of success, that line led the charge. He’s capable of doing what he’s been doing all year long, and hopefully he can attain that.”