Patrick Kane is in his seventh season with the Chicago Blackhawks. At only 25 years of age, he has already won two Stanley Cups and is coming off a Conn Smythe performance in the 2013 NHL Playoffs. There's no doubt that Kane is one of the most skilled and exciting players in the league. His combination of speed, stick handling and accuracy make him a dangerous weapon against any team. He's been so successful at such a young age but one thing he hasn't done is lead the NHL in scoring. Could this be the year?
Kane currently sits second in the league in scoring with 42 points. He trails Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby by only one point, but Kane has played two more games. Kane is averaging 1.24 points per game. If he keeps up that pace, he will finish the season with 101 points, granted he plays in all 82 games.
Kane has been close to leading the league in scoring in the past, but hasn't done enough to finish first. He finished fifth in the league last year during a shortened 48-game season, scoring 23 goals and adding 32 assists. His highest point total came in 2009-2010 where he registered 88 points. Although putting up career-high numbers, Kane finished ninth in the NHL in scoring that year as Henrik Sedin collected 112 points to lead the league.
With the Blackhawks being such a well-rounded offensive team, there are lots of players finding the back of the net. The team has six players with 10 or more goals – Kane leads the way with 17. The Blackhawks average a league-best 3.68 goals per game and do a great job of moving the puck. With there being offensive firepower throughout the whole lineup, it provides more opportunities to score as well as pick up assists. Kane plays on the Blackhawks' second line and occasionally double shifts, making appearances on the first and third lines. He also plays an important role on the team's power play, which is starting to finally come around after a slow start to the season. With Kane seeing plenty of ice time, it provides the opportunity to pick up more points, especially considering how active he is on the offensive end of the ice.
He's definitely capable of reaching the 100-point plateau and that mark could very well lead the league. Whether Kane leads the league in scoring or not will come down to a few factors:
- His health
- The health of opposing players chasing the scoring title
- Avoiding any major slump
There are more things that will come into play, but those three are the main factors that will truly decide whether Kane leads the NHL in scoring or not. He has to stay healthy throughout the whole season and considering he will be playing for the United States in the 2014 Olympics, he will have to be careful. Sidney Crosby has dealt with concussions in the past and Ryan Getzlaf and Evgeni Malkin have suffered a few injuries over the last couple of years. If they happen to re-injure or re-aggravate an injury, they could be looking at missing some time which would keep them out of the scoring race. Finally, Kane has to avoid having a major slump. He can't have a long stretch where he is on a point drought. This will put him too far behind and it will be hard to catch up.
While there are several factors that contribute to a player being able to lead the league in scoring, things are looking up for Patrick Kane. He definitely has the tools and skill to lead the league in scoring and he has come close on more than one occasion. There's still lots of games to be played and anything can happen, but we like where Kane is sitting right now in the scoring race.
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