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Blackhawks Fri Dec 27 2013

Kane Racking Up Points in a Season for the Ages

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It wasn't all that long ago when Patrick Kane was the poster boy for partying with co-eds and bumbling around in a drunken stupor through the streets of whatever town he visited. It was cute and at times blown off as, "Hey, he's a young kid with a ton of money. Who wouldn't do this?" We all said it, and even followed it with, "Let the kid have his fun, because, ultimately, he's going to show up on the ice and help lead this team to another Stanley Cup." Kane certainly had his fun off the ice, but ultimately was wasting away his talents on it.

The two seasons in between least year's championship run became a mirror on the ice of Kane's antics off: stumbling over his own two feet. Then, something clicked inside Kane's head. Whether or not it was his family intervening or captain Jonathan Toews putting a boot in his rear end, Kane responded and now Blackhawks fans, as well as the rest of the NHL, are witnessing the talent, skill level and just general excitement not seen in this city since Michael Jordan was at his peak in the United Center.

You're familiar with how last season started: Kane brought his mother along to Switzerland where he played for EHC Biel during the lockout. That long trip started with what eventually what would be the end of another: mediocre play from a world-class athlete disguised as a frat boy.

Eventually Kane would win the Conn Smythe trophy and would help his team to a second Stanley Cup in four seasons. He finished fifth in scoring with 55 points in 47 games, just five points behind Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis. The only question, after such a monumental season, was what Kane would do for an encore.

Kane celebrated during the off season, and some jokes were made at his expense with pictures of number 88 chugging bottles of beer. But in the end, Kane kept off the radar and the only worry Blackhawks fans had about him during the down months was whether general manager Stan Bowman was going to be able to re-sign the former number-one draft pick after the 2014-'15 season. (NOTE: Bowman said back in September Kane and Toews were going to "be here forever." You can bet with that tone Bowman will do everything possible to make sure that happens.)

As this season started, it became clear Kane was going to match-up on the second line with aging center Michal Handzuš, who certainly helped the Blackhawks in the post-season, but wasn't nearly as fast as Kane in getting down the ice. Kane's production slipped and at one point found himself sporting a minus-nine after the first month of play.

Perhaps the old Patrick Kane would have called out Handzuš or, worse yet, fallen back into a comfort zone of playing just good enough to get the puck into the zone without following it into the corner and feeding it back up top to his defenders. Instead Kane kept his head up and played his game and continued to find the open player. Granted, it didn't hurt that Handzuš suffered an upper-body injury and was shelved for an extended amount of time, but for Kane to go from a minus-nine to a now plus-eight is beyond comprehension.

Kane's ability to score with his backhand (just ask Carter Hutton), and his ability to find the open player while dancing with the puck across the blue line is a thing of beauty. His patience on the ice and drive to become the first American-born player to win the Art Ross Trophy is making for another great run for his team through the regular season.

Kane currently sits at second place in scoring with 49 points, just six behind league-leading Sidney Crosby. Kane also finds himself in the midst of another 12-game point streak, his second of this season. Once again, he's only six games shy of sharing the American-born point streak record held by Toronto's Phil Kessel and Chicago's very own Eddie Olczyk at 18 points.

Goals are great for players to set for themselves, just as it's important for a team to set a goal for itself at the beginning of each season. If Kane can keep scoring goals at this pace -- and keep in mind, he plays on the second line -- there's no doubt he will reach his personal goals as well as assist in his team reaching its ultimate goal: another Stanley Cup. Kane is must-watch television each and every time he takes the ice. Blackhawks fans should cherish every moment he's in town and on the ice, especially now that he's walking firmly on his own two feet off of it.

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