CHICAGO | Opponents can get too much of Patrick Kane for their own good.
The Los Angeles Kings found that out when the Blackhawks’ Kane, a hockey version of a Derrick Rose point guard, dropped four goals in them in their series-ending two losses in the Western Conference Finals.
Displaying how he can be a game-changer, Kane racked up his hat trick Saturday night that clinched the double-overtime victory that sent the Hawks into the Stanley Cup Finals starting Wednesday night at the United Center.
Now all he needs to do is continue his on-ice artistry against the big, bad Boston Bruins, one of the NHL’s toughest teams. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville hopes he doesn’t need to give Kane another pep talk as he did before Game 4, when Kane was the subject of criticism for his quiet play.
“Yeah, he stepped up,” Quenneville said. “He took on the responsibility of leading the team. Proved he's a top player in the game. He made special plays over the two games. Nice to see him finish it off in a
real positive way for us.
“Top players, they want to be great all the time. Finding a way to be great in the tight checking that many teams have in our league, I commend him on two outstanding games.”
Kane and Co. will face tight checking and tough contact against the Bruins. The Original Six teams will play against each other for the first time in the postseason since 1978.
“I think it's good for the league,” Quenneville said. “It's good for hockey. Two great hockey markets. We're very excited to be a part of it.”
“They're on an amazing roll (four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins) They were on the ropes in one game, we were on the ropes for three. They got a lot of momentum where they're at right now. Should set up for a great final.”
Even though they did not play against the Bruins in the lockout-shortened season that featured intra-conference play only, Hawks players know what to expect.
“We know they are a big team, a physical team just like LA,” said forward Marian Hossa, who had played against the Bruins in his pre-2009 Eastern Conference days. “They are good skating team, a smart team. Their goalie (Tuuka Rask) is playing unbelievable. The two best teams are going at each other.”
“They can skate, and they have four lines that can score,” said forward Patrick Sharp.
Fortunately, the Hawks will have three days off to recover from the hard-fought Kings finale.
“We battled so hard,” said goalie Corey Crawford. “Both (Finals) teams are a little tired. But we’re able to get over that.”
The Hawks did not outwardly celebrate their conference finals victory in the locker room late Saturday. Part of it was sheer exhaustion, but the rest likely was a stark realization.
“We haven’t won anything,” Hossa said.