Don't bet against Patrick Kane finally busting out
If the outcome of a hockey game was determined by a panel of judges, a struggling Patrick Kane still would have earned a few 9.0 scores in the category of artistic merit in this series.
Through the first four games of the 2015 Stanley Cup final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, there have been a handful of those special, breathtaking Patrick Kane moments. The trademark ones that elicit ooohs and aaahs from both home and road crowds, who are all entranced by the way he can dominate a shift.
But the sport doesn't work that way, especially at playoff time. Goals are all that matter and, more often than not, it's the ones of the greasy variety that dominate the postseason.
Heading into Game 5 Saturday at the Amalie Arena, Kane hasn't found the back of the net at all in the final. No highlight reel goals. No pucks bouncing in off his noggin. Nothing. He doesn't even have a point in the series.
That the Hawks find themselves even in the series at 2-2 without having had their most dynamic forward score a single goal must make his teammates and coaches feel fortunate.
To this point, in a truly fascinating matchup in which neither team has enjoyed more than a one-goal lead, the two biggest offensive game changers -- Chicago's Kane and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos -- have yet to register a goal.
The difference: Kane has been here before. Stamkos has not.
This is the first taste of the Stanley Cup final for the skilled Lightning captain and, most likely, certainly not his last. For better or worse, these are uncharted waters for him.
Kane, meanwhile, thrives in the postseason like few others in the modern game. He's registered 112 points in 114 career playoff games, none bigger than his overtime Stanley Cup winner against the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2010.
With a postseason resume like that, it says here to not bet against Patrick Kane. Coach Joel Quenneville certainly isn't.
"He had a couple of good looks in the last game, he's had chances in all games," Quenneville said Friday night. "I think that when your top guys go through stretches where they don't score, they absorb the other team's coverage issues with their top defensive guys. And eventually they're going to get their turns.
"He goes through stretches where he doesn't produce, but he does a lot of other things that are helpful to our team game. Then, all of a sudden, he'll hit the scoreboard and it's tough to keep him off it."
It's just a matter of time until Kane busts out. Quenneville feels that way. And so, too, does Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who went through a similar slump before getting his first goal of the series in Chicago's 2-1 win in Game 4 on Wednesday.
"I mean, there's a lot of little things that could go differently and you wouldn't be asking those questions from a player like Kaner or even myself," Toews said. "In the first game, he had like five shots, a bunch of chances. Game 2 he was making plays. He would have been on the board a few times if (Brandon Saad) and I could have buried our chances.
"I don't think Kaner questions himself, or even myself. We just know you got to keep working, keep finding ways to create chances, eventually believe those bounces are going to go your way."
As Toews pointed out, Kane doesn't question himself.
And, given his track record, neither should we. At least not yet.
Who will win Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead?