Look at Patrick Kane, pouncing on a loose puck, darting out wide, luring Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick out of his crease and onto his back, firing over his head. Look at Kane, stalking the play, in the right place at the right time, waiting for Bryan Bickell to get him the puck so he could smack it into the net. Look at Kane, down almost to one knee in perfect form, blasting a one-timer into the net, then dropping to both knees, sliding across the ice and flailing his arms in giddy celebration, the spotlight unable to keep up. Look at Jonathan Toews, aggressively going to the net, hacking away at the puck and creating a juicy rebound for Kane. Look at Toews, mucking the puck out of the corner and creating a scoring chance. Look at Toews, outracing Kings defenseman Slava Voynov to a loose puck to spark a two-on-one, then threading a perfect pass to Kane between a pair of defenders for the game-winner. Look at Kane and Toews, the Blackhawks’ dynamic duo, their beating heart and their fearless leader — active, aggressive, confident. And not a moment too soon. With the structured, stout Boston Bruins and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final looming Wednesday, the Hawks will go only as far as their big guns take them. The Hawks’ run to the Final has been powered by unlikely sources and feel-good stories. There has been Bickell’s ascendance, Corey Crawford’s redemption, Andrew Shaw’s irascibility, Michal Handzus’ rejuvenation, Niklas Hjalmarsson’s grittiness, Michal Rozsival’s endurance and Michael Frolik’s penalty killing — and penalty shooting — just to name a handful. But the Hawks are only at their best when their best are at their best. And that means Kane and Toews all over the ice and all over the scoresheet — somewhere they haven’t been much this postseason. In fact, just three days before Toews set up Kane for the game-winning goal in double overtime Saturday, Kane sat in his locker stall at Staples Center sounding like a guy on a shrink’s coach, convincing himself he was still good enough to turn around a disappointing postseason. Toews, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found, almost an afterthought on a team built in his image. Coach Joel Quenneville said he needed ‘‘more.’’ ‘‘I expected more from myself,’’ Kane agreed. ‘‘My teammates probably did, too.’’ So Kane and Toews finally gave Quenneville more. Kane had a goal in Game 4 and a hat trick in Game 5. Toews was a plus-4 in those two games, with two assists and five shots in Game 5. Suddenly, they looked like their old selves. Even the very best have their doubts and need an occasional confidence boost. And now? The floodgates finally might have opened for good.
Kane, Toews have found their playoff grooves at the right time
Chicago Sun-Times | Jun 10