The Chicago Blackhawks, are shockingly, still fighting to clinch a playoff berth, as they currently sit seven points out of the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, which is now held by the Colorado Avalanche. We are far from last season here...
The Hawks fell 2-0 to the best team in the East last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and are now running out of time to make a decision on whether they need to be buyers or sellers at the upcoming Feb. 26 trade deadline.
What Chicago can still be encouraged from is the performance of star player Patrick Kane, who does not seem willing to slow down despite his team's current slump. Many experts were worried to see him lose his linemate Artemi Panarin this summer, when the young Russian forward was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 23.
However, Kane is proving to everyone that he can play - with anyone.
"I know with Panarin, it was get on the weak side of the ice, try to do a lot of crossing passes and get his one-timer because he had such a good one-timer," he said to NHL.com. "With [Schmaltz], you try to utilize his speed up the middle. That's something we can really take advantage of. And when we're in [the offensive] zone, it's just nonstop, go wherever, try to create space, create motion.
"There are little things you change, but for me personally, you just keep the same game."
So if ever the Hawks decide to go all out for a playoff push, it does not matter who they get upfront. Kane seems ready to play with anybody and make the best of it.
Kane is five assists away from 500 in the NHL. He's already reached two milestones this season, scoring his 300th goal in a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 23 and getting his 800th point in a 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.
As for the Hawks' desire to add before the deadline, they might need to pull a move in between the pipes. Starter Corey Crawford is still sidelined with vertigo and post-concussion symptoms, and there are rumors that he could miss the remainder of the season.
There is however one encouraging thing: Chicago's playoff chances may be in question, but one thing is sure: Kane can produce, no matters who's on his line.