SAN JOSE, Calif. —Patrick Kane has been on a run like this before. Two years ago this week, actually, on the 2013-14 version of the circus trip, Kane had a 12-game point streak snapped in Dallas. Kane went on to register at least a point in each of the 14 games after that.
That 2-1 shootout victory over the Stars, in which he came up empty, stills gnaws at Kane a bit.
“That would have been interesting to do, if you get one that game and you take [the streak] a little bit longer,” Kane said.
It would have been a 27-game point streak. It would have extraordinary. And it would have been barely halfway to the record — Wayne Gretzky’s 51-game point streak in 1983-84. That number is unimaginable in the modern-day NHL, one of dozens of records Gretzky set that likely will never be broken. In those 51 games, Gretzky had a ridiculous 153 points — an even 3.0 per game.
“Fifty-one’s almost like a season,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Especially in today’s game, where scoring is so difficult [with] checking mechanisms, being aware of a certain guy or what his tendencies are, or line tendencies. Night in, night out, somebody’s going to get the best of you. So that’s why it’s pretty remarkable. We’re happy with what Kaner’s achieved, knowing that the other guy, Gretz, is in a whole different class.”
Kane carries a career-high 16-game point streak into Wednesday’s game against the red-hot San Jose Sharks, eking out a secondary assist in Vancouver to keep the streak alive. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in the 16 games, but hasn’t scored a goal since his seven-game goal streak was snapped in Edmonton at the start of the road trip.
After the loss to the Canucks on Saturday, Kane said that despite the streak, he wasn’t very happy with how he’s been playing lately. Quenneville didn’t disagree.
“Their line didn’t have the puck as much as they did throughout the big part of that stretch,” Quenneville said. “That line wasn’t as dynamic as it’s been for most of the season.”
That’s the key to keeping these point streaks alive, though — scraping by with a point every now and then when you’re not at your best. Kane, ever a student of the game, knew Gretzky’s mark off the top of his head, and even had the details thanks to a 1990 documentary on Gretzky —“Above And Beyond” — that he used to watch as a kid.
“He was at 43, played in Chicago, and they held him to nothing the whole game,” Kane recalled. “But he got to 44 by scoring an empty-net goal.”
Kane knows his history. Gretzky’s empty-netter that night at the old Chicago Stadium came with two seconds left in the game. He played the last few games of his streak with a shoulder injury, and finally sat out six games once the streak finally ended. He could have sat the rest of the season and still won the scoring title comfortably.
“Pretty impressive,” Kane said. “I don’t think that’s a record that’ll ever be touched.”
There still are a couple within reach for Kane. He’s two wins shy of tying Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel for the longest point streak (18 games) by an American —something Olczyk, the Hawks’ TV analyst, reminded him of earlier this week. And he’s five games away from Bobby Hull’s franchise record of 21 games, set in 1971-72.
Kane knows all the numbers, and hopes he can put his name in the record books. But he’s done stressing about the streak.
“If you start looking into how long your streak is, and where it’s at, that’s when you get yourself in trouble,” he said. “I’ll admit the past few games, I might have been thinking about it too much. I want to get that out of my head now and play hockey, not worry about the streak and wherever it’s at. I need to just play and worry about my game and the next game, where I get points or not.”