Resurgent Patrick Kane Puts Chicago Blackhawks On Doorstep of Stanley Cup

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2013

CHICAGO—Speed is winning the battle against size and strength for Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks.

It's starting to become obvious that the Boston Bruins are running out of ways to slow the young Hawks star down. They are certainly running out of time after Kane scored the opening two goals of Game 5 in Chicago's 3-1 victory over the Bruins Saturday night. Now holding the 3-2 series lead, the Blackhawks are one game away from claiming their second Stanley Cup championship in four years.

While the Bruins battled hard and appeared to be playing on even terms, Kane's quickness burned them when a loose puck got behind Tuukka Rask, and he whipped it into the back of the net with a quick backhand strike with 2:33 left in the first period.

Kane also used his quickness early in the second when linemates Bryan Bickell and Jonathan Toews combined to give him an opportunity. Once again, Kane used his backhand to beat Rask at the 5:13 mark of the second period.

Kane has scored nine goals in the Stanley Cup playoffs, one behind league leader and teammate Patrick Sharp.

"I was in the right place at the right time tonight," Kane said. "Sometimes that happens, and it definitely helps when luck is on your side. But I tend to get lucky when I play on the same line with Bicks (Bickell) and Johnny."

Kane is known for his speed, quickness and his vicious wrist shot. But with two goals in the dirty area of the net in Game 5 and one in Game 4, Kane is showing that there's more to his game than just using his speed and staying on the outside.

He is not about to paint himself as a tough guy, but he is taking pride in his ability to make some key plays in the most important games of the season from the so-called dirty areas.

"I'm not even going to think about that," Kane explained. "I'm just going to go where I have the best chance of helping my team out and making the play that I need to. When you are in tight, you have a chance to make quick moves, and I feel comfortable doing that."

While the Bruins' size and strength seemed to give them the advantage earlier in the series, the Blackhawks' speed and quickness has been instrumental in their past two victories. In particular, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is struggling to contain Kane. He was on the ice for all three Blackhawks goals.

Head coach Joel Quenneville did not go so far as to say his team had won that battle of quickness and speed vs. size and strength, but he did say he wants his team to use its advantage whenever it can.

"I liked the way we came out tonight, and we competed and used our speed," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure we get on the forecheck and try to spend some time in their end. We were able to get them to turn. That's important."

The coach spoke to the importance of Kane's speed: "When you have a player like Patrick, he's going to be able to give you an edge once he senses an opening, and he did that tonight."

While Kane was flying early with his linemates, he did not get to finish the game with Toews, as the young star played very little and missed the entire third period after absorbing a second-period hit from Johnny Boychuk.

Quenneville said that Toews had an upper-body injury and was uncertain of his player's status for Game 6 Monday night.

Quenneville did not characterize the hit as "dirty." NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan told Bleacher Report that the league would review the hit as part of its postgame operations. However, he did not single out Boychuk or imply that the hit was illegal, saying that more than 100 hits had been reviewed in the first four games of the series.

Boychuk on Toews hit: "I came across and read it and hit him. I tried to hit him clean, and I thought it was." #Blackhawks #Bruins

— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) June 23, 2013

The Bruins also suffered a major loss when Patrice Bergeron played less than a minute in the second period and was taken to the hospital for further examination.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien had no update on Bergeron's injury or what specifically caused it. Julien acknowledged the Blackhawks' speed and the ability of their top line to give Chicago an edge.

"Well, they have had two good games in a row, and the way the goals were scored, they were scored close around the net," Julien said. "Kane scored three goals in the last two games, and he's very good at kind of finding those quiet areas and sliding into the right spot. That's why he's a good player and scores a lot of goals. We just maybe have to have a little bit more awareness around our net because both goals were scored the same way."

Time is running out for the Bruins to figure a way to slow down Patrick Kane and his speedy teammates. As hard a job as that is, it is a job that will be much more difficult if Bergeron is unable to play in Game 6.


Steve Silverman is a credentialed reporter covering the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago for Bleacher Report. Quotes in this story were obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.