Niagara Gazette

Sports

January 25, 2014

Is maturing Kane a key to elusive Olympic gold?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — “There’s a lot of things I’ve learned in the past few years — for sure,” Kane acknowledged.

With skates on his feet and a stick in his hand, Kane is arguably playing better than ever in his seven-year NHL career.

He is more patient with the puck, dangling it to set up a shot for teammates or himself, and it is paying off. The winger leads the defending champion Blackhawks with 59 points and he ranks among NHL leaders with 24 goals despite a recent drought.

“Four years ago, he was a big part of the team and I’m sure he will be even more important because he’s playing well enough to be a strong candidate for MVP of the league,” Nashville Predators and U.S. general manager David Poile said. “He’s a game-breaker who can change the game on each and every shift he’s on the ice.”

At the Vancouver Games, Kane scored twice in 2 minutes against Finland goalie Miikka Kiprusoff in a rout that lifted the Americans into the semifinals. Later that year, he had the game-winning goal in Game 6 against Philadelphia to help the Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

Kane ranked third in the NHL with six goals that won games during last year’s lockout-shortened season. He then had nine goals and 10 assists in the 2013 playoffs as Chicago won another championship, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs.

“The skill and his ability is clear,” Pittsburgh Penguins and U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said. “His ability to bring it in the big times and come through with that skill, he’s shown it. He’s shown it last year and he’s showing it again this year in a way that he’s never showed it before with what he’s bringing.”

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