With two points on Friday against Vancouver, Patrick Kane moved to within three points of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the NHL scoring lead. Crosby responded with three points the next day. And yes, Kane noticed.
“You know where each other are,” Kane said after Monday’s morning skate. “If you said otherwise, you’d probably be lying. I watched a few of his games lately, and it just seems like when he wants to take over the game, he just does it. He’s fun to watch. It’s probably good for me to watch a player like that, too. I can take some notes from him and learn some things, and maybe try to incorporate it in my game. He’s a hell of a player.”
Kane scored again Monday against New Jersey, giving him points in 12 straight games, and 24 of his last 25, as he makes a run at his first scoring title. Whether he wins the Art Ross Trophy or not, he’s already won the admiration of Devils forward Jaromir Jagr, who won five scoring titles, including four in a row from 1998-2001.
Jagr, 41, has 13 goals this season, moving him past Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman and into a tie for seventh place all-time with Mark Messier. So the praise he had for Kane — who called Jagr one of the “funnest” players to watch growing up — does not come lightly.
“Him and [Pavel Datsyuk] are my favorite players in the league to watch,” Jagr said. “He’s kind of the prototype player from 1995, and he’s playing this league. He slows the game down, and that’s the way we used to love it. The young kids, they don’t do it anymore — they just go straight up with the best speed they can have, and then they hit the boards, and they go the other way. But [Kane’s] different. That’s why he can dominate the league, because he’s playing a different style. You can know it right away when you watch him.”
The game has changed dramatically since the early 1980s and early 1990s, when offense ruled and the trapping, defensive style that the Devils, of all teams, eventually popularized hadn’t taken over. So despite Kane’s prolific production, he’s only on pace for 103 points. Jagr topped the century mark five times in his career, including 149 points in 1995-96, when his teammate, Lemieux, had 161.
Jagr believes Kane would have fit right in during the more open era of hockey.
“He’s quick, that’s another advantage,” Jagr said. “He slows everything down, but he’s got the first two steps. So nobody can really take the puck from him, even though he’s not a big guy. His intelligence is far ahead of a lot of guys. He knows how to use the strength he’s got to his advantage. Not many guys can do that. He’s one of the ones that can do it.”
In the meantime, Kane will keep chasing Crosby, another Penguins icon who shows no signs of slowing down. Can he keep up?
“I don’t know,” Kane said. “First and foremost, you want to worry about yourself and not worry about what other guys are doing, and try to produce as much as you can personally. But [Crosby’s] a guy that always seems to be ahead of the pack. Even last year he had some crazy numbers [56 points] and he only played  games. He seems to produce at a very high pace.”