A series in which the Chicago Blackhawks were once in dire straits is now tied, with the St. Louis Blues unable to come up with a win at the United Center. Game 4 may well be the turning point of this first-round matchup, but not because Chicago evened the series at two so much as the fact that Patrick Kane appears to have finally woken up.
Kane’s two goals and one assist in Game 4 matched his highest single-game scoring output since Feb. 3, but the numbers actually understate how good he was. He was the best player on the ice Wednesday night — even better than Blues’ standout Vladimir Tarasenko — and created offensive opportunities nearly every time he touched the ice, regardless of his linemates.
This particular version of Kane is a welcome sight for the Blackhawks, whose stars had all but forgotten to show up in the first three games against St. Louis. Even more importantly, the jump in No. 88’s step injected some scoring punch into a forward corps that had gotten bizarrely stale. Chicago generated almost nothing in the attacking zone in Game 3, but was bailed out by Corey Crawford. Kane’s dominance in Game 4 turned the tables, allowing the team to be the one to bail out Crawford (who was somewhat shaky).
It seems that Kane is recovered to the point where his knee injury is no longer a hindrance. The player who was zipping around the UC ice on Wednesday night was every bit as good as the player who tore up the NHL at the beginning of 2013-14.
If that Patrick Kane sticks around, it will be very difficult for the Blackhawks to lose this series.