WEATHER ALERT

Not quite on pace for 50

Like most Jets, Kane struggling to hit back of the net with 2 goals

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/11/2014 (2990 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

 

Given his ambitious outlook before the NHL season began, you’d have thought the snark would be closing in on Evander Kane by now.

The Winnipeg Jets hit Game No. 22 of the season this afternoon when they meet the St. Louis Blues at the MTS Centre (3:30 p.m., TSN3, TSN 1290) and the power forward has two goals.

Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press 'Evander is playing the game that the team's playing. He's not on his own program by any means' - Winnpeg head coach Paul Maurice

The critics, though, have kept it down, either distracted by more important storylines surrounding the Jets — such as improved defence — or understanding there have been some twists in the road since all the off-season speculation Kane would likely be traded.

For starters, his season went dark just three minutes into the opening game, when he collided with teammate Mark Scheifele.

The three-week absence while recovering from a knee injury has limited him to just 13 appearances so far, effectively just 12 games.

 

But even two goals in 12 games (and six total points) wasn’t what Kane had in mind when he volunteered before the regular season began he was feeling so good, he thought he could at some time reach 50 goals.

Kane didn’t say it specifically about 2014-15, though some interpreted it that way. Rather, the comment was more about his optimism and his state of mind and health.

That remained Saturday when he was asked about having scored only in games Nov. 6 against Pittsburgh and last Sunday in Minnesota.

“I’ve played, what, 11 games?” Kane said after Saturday’s practice at the MTS Centre. “Obviously you’d like more offence… obviously you’d like to produce more, but we’ve been winning games and I look at that as a positive.”

Kane hasn’t forgotten his optimistic words of earlier and he didn’t sound the least bit discouraged on the matter Saturday.

“It doesn’t really change my mindset,” he said. “There’s lots of hockey left this season and it’s just the beginning. I think everybody would like to be scoring more and as a team we’d like to be scoring more, so it’s going to be up to the top guys such as myself to try to produce more and obviously score a lot more.”

Another quarter with two goals from Kane might produce some worry, but there is absolutely none to this point as far as head coach Paul Maurice is concerned.

Photos by TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg Jets left-winger Evander Kane (left) works against defenceman Paul Postma at practice Saturday.

“He hasn’t played a quarter pole’s worth of games and that’s a big chunk of it,” Maurice said Saturday. “And one of the interesting stats that doesn’t make that is one goal against five-on-four.”

Kane is a regular member of the Jets’ excellent penalty-killing unit and the stat Maurice mentioned is that opposition power plays have clicked just once this season while Kane is employed.

“There’s a lot to what he does for our team — I know he does score goals and his style is such a dramatic style with his speed and his shot,” Maurice said. “There’s more to his game than just the flash that you see.

“He’s had chances, he’s rung posts. I feel the same way about Evander as I do about (Dustin) Byfuglien, (Mathieu) Perreault, (Michael) Frolik for that matter. (Mark) Scheifele as well. All those guys would hope and expect to have better numbers, but I’m really not worried about that right now. That’s not where we are as a team.”

Kane, now playing with centre Mathieu Perreault and right-winger Dustin Byfuglien, actually had a productive last week.

“Their line has four goals in the last seven periods,” Maurice said. “That’s a real high rate. I’m not sure you can expect that rate to continue. But it isn’t that they need more offence. They need to be able to do that, or a version of that, and not give anything up.

“So Evander is playing the game that the team’s playing. He’s not on his own program by any means.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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