Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Counting on Kane to light the lamp

Winger will play big role in Jets' attack

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WITH a roster largely unchanged from the one that missed the playoffs by 13 points last spring, the Winnipeg Jets will have to make up the difference internally.

And no surprise, many eyes have gone straight to left-winger Evander Kane, and not just because he's easy to spot in Bobby Hull's old No. 9.

The swift, 6-foot-2 forward showed Wednesday night that he's getting untracked, contributing a pair of goals to Winnipeg's 3-1 pre-season home-ice win over Carolina.

"I think that's just outside pressure and I put pressure on myself," the 20-year-old Vancouverite said on Thursday. "I like to embrace that, use it to my benefit.

"I'm not too worried about it. I know what I can do. It's up to me to be consistent every night."

He scored 14 goals as a rookie with the Atlanta Thrashers. Then the first-round pick, fourth overall, of the 2009 draft increased it to 19 last season.

Now, it appears almost unanimous that the total's going higher.

Coach Claude Noel, for instance, was asked the other night about 30 goals for Kane this season.

"I don't set specific numbers," said Kane, who will be back in the lineup again tonight when the Jets meet the Nashville Predators at the MTS Centre (TSN Jets, 1290AM). "I know what I want to do. I know what I want this team to do. I think we've got to win and winning comes first. Personal goals come second. At the same time, I see myself as making a big jump and I definitely want my numbers to rise a lot from last year."

Now with three goals in four pre-season games and after his first home action of the exhibition season, Kane certainly feels more comfortable with his game and also with the talk about what may be ahead of him this season.

"I think it was nice to get another win, be a part of a winning team again," he said. "It's great to get home for the first game, take in what the fans have been talking about all summer long.

"It was great to experience and really makes you look forward to the next home game."

As for what the future holds, Noel seems more concerned with the process than what the results will be.

"He's pretty much the same as everyone else as far as my knowledge of who's what," said the head coach. "I'll just say this, I haven't known him well enough but I've talked to him as much as everyone else and I can just say that he has responded to the communication. That's what you look for."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 30, 2011 C1

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