Patrick Kane knows a little something about what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, and he knew that the 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks didn’t have it. Talking with WGN Radio on Tuesday morning about the team’s ouster at the hands of the Nashville Predators, Kane didn’t waste any words saying what we all know — it was a butt-kicking.
“I think a lot of us didn’t figure we’d be in the situation we’re in right now,” Kane said on WGN, via CSN Chicago. “All of us can work this offseason to get better. It’s a long time to wait to get back to that opportunity to play in the playoffs again, so we’ll have a sour taste in our mouth for a while.”
Kane finished the playoffs with one goal and one assist in four games, which the Blackhawks all lost in getting swept for the first time since the early 1990s. It’s the first time that Kane failed to average at least a point-per-game in the postseason since 2012, when he had four assists in six games.
“Maybe we had a chance in Game 3 when we were up 2-0, but it was a clean sweep and that’s probably how it should’ve been,” he said. “So now it’s time to regroup.”
One area where the Blackhawks particularly struggled was handling the Predators’ combination of a 1-3-1 neutral zone system and an aggressive counterattack. Chicago needed to bring a lot of speed and a high level of execution to break that strategy, but they didn’t necessarily have the personnel to pull that off.
It was brilliant coaching by Nashville’s Peter Laviolette, and a reminder of how much talent GM Dave Poile has assembled there over the past few years. Even with an injury-battered forward group at the moment, the Predators’ defense and a re-energized Pekka Rinne make them incredibly hard to beat.
None of that ultimately excuses how badly the Blackhawks were beaten, though, and Kane said as much on WGN. The good news is that he also sounded hungry for another Cup, and that’s what management presumably wants to hear after the team showed basically no urgency in watching one year of the potential championship window go up in smoke.
“Four sounds a lot better than three, right?” he said. “It’s a long time away and a lot of work, but sometimes you go through those situations and you realize you won three Cups and it’s almost like you’re going to be there again. That’s where the reality check is for us now, realizing how hard it is to get back in that situation, how hard it is to win a Cup or go deep in this league. There’s a lot of work to be done.”