Why Patrick Kane Will Be Pivotal in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Why Patrick Kane Will Be Pivotal in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

As one of the core members of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise, Patrick Kane has always had a huge role to fill come playoff time for his defending Stanley Cup squad.

Fans and teammates alike received some rough news after Wednesday night’s matchup against Central Division rivals St. Louis. Kane exited the game with a left knee injury, and head coach Joel Quenneville stated he will most likely miss the final few weeks of the regular season. 

The Blackhawks’ 2014 season has seen its fair share of ups and downs, as has their 25-year-old right wing. After coming off his second Stanley Cup in four years, Kane failed to suffer the dreaded “championship hangover.”

In fact, Chicago fans saw their hometown hero put up some impressive 12- and 14-game point streaks.

However, by the time 2014 rolled around, Kane’s stats have dropped tremendously.

The winger has only been able to notch five goals and 10 assists since January 2. His lack of scoring was seen in the Olympics as well. In Sochi, not even once was he able to find the back of the mesh.

This makes Kane’s recent injury much less concerning. While injuries are scary and not welcomed, the dip in his stats is not what anyone within the Blackhawks organization would like to see right now heading into the final stretch of the season.

While he will most likely be back for the first round of playoff hockey action in mid-April, it is still not apparent whether or not he will have the same postseason success he has had in the past.

In the two years the Blackhawks have won Lord Stanley’s Cup, Kane played lights out. In 2010, he had 18 assists and 10 goals, including the overtime winner against the Philadelphia Flyers that propelled his team to its first Cup win in 49 years.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In the 2013 postseason, Kane tallied nine goals and 10 assists, which would help him win his first Conn Smythe award for playoff MVP.

The two years between those championship seasons saw Kane become relatively quiet in the scoring department.

In their dramatic three-game comeback against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, he could only muster one goal and five assists.

It was even worse the next year, as he put up only four assists while being held scoreless by Mike Smith and the Phoenix Coyotes.

Kane cannot be in this slump when he returns to action in April if he wants to help his team repeat as champs. 

As of March 21, the Blackhawks have decided to put Kane on the injured reserve list and call up one of their most-prized prospects: Teuvo Teravainen.

Teravainen is a 19-year-old left winger from Finland who has been dubbed the “Finnish Patrick Kane.” He has played extremely well in his native country's top hockey league, SM-Liiga.

This is a smart move by the team. This will give the Blackhawks the depth they need at center. Also, the addition will help fill Kane's absence due to Teravainen being a dynamic goal scorer like his teammate. 

The young Finn is a good addition, but down the road, we will see the absence of Kane starting to take hold. He is a key figure this team is built around. It will be scary, however, to see what these two forwards can do if the Blackhawks decide to keep Teravainen for their postseason run.

Kane has had a spectacular career so far in the NHL. Two Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, a Calder Trophy and an Olympic silver medal are all proof of that.

He will continue to find challenges down the road, and that's what the sport is all about. If it weren’t, then the game would be old and dull for players after they win their first championship. The Chicago faithful have hope that Kane can overcome these new obstacles. He just needs hope in himself.

 

All stats provided by NHL.com.

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