VANCOUVER – Some argued that No. 88 was not only the best player for the Blackhawks over the past decade but maybe the entire NHL as well.
That led to spirited debates amongst pundits and fans as 2019 came to a close with Patrick Kane’s name being in the middle of the conversation. But wherever he ranks, there is no doubt that his contributions have and continue to be critical to his team’s success.
So at the dawn of a new decade this week, it figures that trend for Kane would continue with another outstanding performance in the Blackhawks’ first game of the 2020s.
The forward scored a pair of goals against the Canucks on Thursday in Vancouver to bring his total to 24 on the season, continuing yet another strong year in his mid-career renaissance. Through 42 games, he’s on pace to break his career-high for goals, which is 46 set in his MVP season in 2015-2016.
That’s an encouraging thing to see for fans, but once again the end result wasn’t on par with their best player, as they suffered through another game where their opponents found the scoreboard often.
For the third time this season, since November 30th in fact, the Blackhawks allowed their opponents seven goals in a two-score defeat on Thursday. Robin Lehner gave up six of those with the seventh coming on an empty netter with 20 seconds left.
They’d allowed seven a week-and-a-half earlier in a home loss to the Devils, which came after two-straight road wins and was followed by three consecutive victories. The effort underscores the inconsistency that has plagued the Blackhawks for most of their first full season under Jeremy Colliton, as the team currently sits at 18-18-6 on the season.
That’s not good enough for the playoffs, and they’ll need to find some consistency over the next three-and-a-half months if they hope to end a three-year playoff drought.