#1: Patrick Kane
Jan 8, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (88) shoots during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Kane has not only been a clear-cut choice for the Blackhawks’ Most Valuable Player over the season’s first half, but he’s been in the conversation for that title league-wide.
The NHL’s fourth-leading scorer shows no signs of slowing down, and when he’s hot, he’s hot. Which is most of the time.
Now would be another one of those times, after a pair of points on Sunday night against the Wild, one of which came after an intended shot bounced off the skate of a defender, and right on to Brad Richards’ stick for an easy goal. Blackhawks fans will take it any way it comes, however. That multi-point night was the 13th of the year for Kane, and gave him five points in his last three games.
Kane’s 47 points haven’t come the way many expected them to, however, as #88 is en-route to a 40 goal season at the half-way mark. Kane’s natural playmaking ability, while still in full effect, has taken a back-seat to a confident, brilliant shooter, and Kane has delivered many big goals amongst the 20 he has fired so far this season.
It seemed like this season has been a long time coming for Kane, after being hampered by centers such as Michal Handzus over the past few seasons. With Brad Richards in the middle on Kane’s second line, the Blackhawks’ top-six has become a nearly indestructible force, with two equal lines of firepower.
Kane makes others around him better, too. Just one look at Kris Versteeg’s rebound season will tell you that playing with Kane is a nearly sure-fire way to turn things around. Right now, it’s Bryan Bickell’s turn, as Versteeg is out with an injury.
Kane was in a similar position a year ago, but an injury derailed any chance for a career year for the then-25 year old. Now, barring any setbacks, Kane’s former career-high of 88 points is set to see an improvement come season’s end, and Blackhawks’ fans couldn’t be happier.
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