One of the Kings' defensemen referred to Chicago star forward Patrick Kane the other day as "undercover fast," taking note of his special brand of dangerous speed.
So far, through three games of the Western Conference finals, Kane has been undercover all right, almost completely undercover against the Kings. He has been held off the score sheet in three games with seven shots on goal in the series, and there are plenty of questions about Kane and the underperforming Patrick Sharp, who finally scored in the waning seconds of Game 3.
Game 4 is Monday night at Staples Center — the Kings lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1 — and Kane ignited last year in the fourth game against the Kings in the playoffs. He admitted he has not been up to par through the first three games.
"You hope history repeats itself and you can do the same thing," Kane said Sunday after the Blackhawks practice in El Segundo. "I think scoring a goal like that last year probably propelled me into playing well the rest of the playoffs, but you can't go into games thinking about scoring, or thinking you've got to have a big point night.
"That's only going to set yourself up for failure. The better way to engage it is, try to play fast, try to command the puck, try to get in and make plays and hopefully, see a result at the end of the night."
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had two goals in Game 3, talked about Kane's goal-scoring struggles.
"I just think he tends to be harder on himself when he's not producing or getting the results on paper," Toews said. "Doesn't necessarily mean he's not playing as well with the puck or not creating anything, he just has to stay with it and once that first one goes in he'll be back to himself again. As his teammate, you can see what he brings to the team every single night, whether he scores or not."
The Kings are fully aware of Kane's series-breaking abilities. He had four goals against them in the final two games last year in the playoffs, including the series-clinching effort in double overtime in Game 5.
"I know when I'm out there, I look for who I'm playing against," said Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin. "He's playing the right wing and I'm a left defenseman, so he's coming down on me. He wants a nice game where he can do what he wants to do — and if you take that away, that's your best chance.
"He's undercover fast. He doesn't look like he's going fast, but he is. He's going to get chances, but if you limit the chances and keep them to the outside, hopefully they're not the chances that cost you. Yeah, you gotta play hard on that guy, or he'll make you look silly."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times