Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks has matured into an excellent NHL player and continues to develop despite being a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Kane has 63 points in 59 games on the Blackhawks’ second line, but he has yet to find the back of the net during Olympic competition.
It’s not like Kane has not been producing, however. His four assists have all been unique and rather spectacular, including a cross-ice pass to Joe Pavelski to score a crucial power play goal against Team Russia.
Kane is likely to remain on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise for Friday’s semifinal against Team Canada which would match him up against Jonathan Toews. This extra motivation to perform directly against a teammate, let alone your NHL team’s Captain, has to be incredible.
So much has been made about Team Canada’s forwards and lineups, but Team Canada’s defensive pairings have remained constant throughout this entire tournament. This means (especially since he spends a lot of time on the left wing offensive side) Kane will be seeing a lot of The Los Angeles Kings top defenseman Drew Doughty. The two have seen each other plenty over the course of their NHL careers, and they will once again be meeting with very high stakes.
The pressure facing Kane is nothing more than the constant, nagging overtone facing Team USA. Despite a tournament-best goal differential and a bevy of NHL talent, Team USA is not regarded with the same respect as the Canadians. Yet, if Kane and the rest of Team USA play with a tight, disciplined, underdog mentality, the results for both parties at the end of sixty minutes will have elevated Team USA to a gold medal favorite.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486