CHICAGO | Speed traditionally kills in the NHL.
Now, Patrick Kane is proving that slow-mo is a go amid the Blackhawks’ unprecedented fast start.
Kane’s bad-angle goal clinched the Stanley Cup against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. Weeks earlier, his desperate short-handed goal with seconds to go bailed the Hawks out of real trouble in the playoffs against Nashville.
The 24-year-old apparently can score in both hyper-drive or very low gear.
The energetic winger is building up his case for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, but not always quickly. His pedestrian stroll to the goal totally faked out Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, winning the overtime shootout Sunday in Detroit.
Kane has used the creeping move before to nail shootouts. But he’s never gotten the renown on national TV like Sunday. He is reminiscent of a point guard or running back slamming on the brakes, ready to cut and change direction.
“It’s a different move, I guess,” Kane said Tuesday.
The Hawks would take it anytime as they attempted to extend their consecutive-games point streak to 29, which would have been second-longest in NHL history, against the Minnesota Wild.
“I started practicing it a little bit last year,” Kane said. “I talked to some of my teammates about it. They thought it would work in a game. The first time I tried it was in Minnesota. I think it’s just kind of a change of pace. Come down slow, and kind of read and react what the goalie is does.
“It almost helps me a little bit, too, because I got more time to read and react what the goalie is going to do instead of just making a quick move and hoping he bites for it. It’s still kind of up in the air if it really works all the time or not.”
The tortoise-speed move against Howard merely increased Kane’s team-pacing points total to 26 (11 goals, 15 assists), tied for sixth in the NHL.
Kane is not likely to spawn a team-full of imitators.
“I don’t think I’d even try that,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “I’d be scared I’d trip over my own feet or something.
“I think we’ve seen a couple of guys (in the NHL) do that slow-down move, but Kaner’s been doing it pretty often lately. He can do all sorts of different moves when he gets in there. It’s always tough for the goaltender to try to figure out what he’s going to do.”
Second-line center Dave Bolland has displayed his own effective hip-fake move on breakaway attempts. But he’s not in Kane’s league for sheer creativity in moves, either alone or in traffic.
“Kaner’s a special player,” Bolland said. “There were two defenders on him (during the Detroit game). He moved it from one side of the stick to the other side. Both defenders hit themselves and fell down. Kaner had a clear break to the net.”
In Kane’s own words, he has to somehow keep propelling himself forward to avoid going in reverse.
“You’re almost at a standstill, at a stop, but you’re still gliding a little bit forward,” he said.