Six games into his Detroit Red Wings tenure, Patrick Kane has two points and is averaging 19:24 TOI a night. A small sample size, but a sample nonetheless.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But if you’re going to rail against a player and team with incomplete analysis, then it’s worth having a bigger discussion.
So on that note, here’s a different viewpoint on Kane’s time with the Red Wings.
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Qualifying Kane’s Performance With the Red Wings
Context is important. It’s the why in what happened. It digs beyond the surface to add color to a black-and-white picture.
Between the end result and the explanation of why things played out the way they did, the latter provides greater insight into how to improve the future.
As such, it’s important that the context of Kane’s performance is discussed when analyzing his performance so far in Detroit.
The future Hall-of-Famer has two points in six Red Wings games. His five-on-five expected goals-for (xGF%) and high-danger scoring chances-for (HDCF%) percentages are below 50 percent – 46.16 percent and 45.45 percent, respectively. Finally, the Red Wings are 1-4-1 with Kane in the lineup.
Those are his stats. However, this information does not tell the whole story. Far from it, actually.
For starters, Kane joined a new team and began playing in a new system after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery and the grueling rehab that followed. Given these circumstances, his middle-of-the-pack numbers—yes, they are indeed average for a Red Wings forward—are understandable.
It’s difficult for any player to acclimate to a new environment midseason – Kane is no different. How many trade deadline acquisitions have struggled to grow accustomed to their new team? Plenty.
In addition, the Red Wings have been without key players for much of Kane’s time in Detroit. Dylan Larkin and David Perron have been out since the first period of his second game. J.T. Compher missed Kane’s first five contests as well. Detroit’s newest acquisition wasn’t even supposed to play in their road victory over the St. Louis Blues, but their shorthanded lineup forced Kane into a larger role sooner than preferred.
Despite all of this, Kane actually looks decent on the ice. His speed through the neutral zone is already better than it was during his time with the New York Rangers last year. His elite vision is also coming back. You couldn’t say the same thing about Nicklas Backstrom after he rejoined the Washington Capitals following his own hip resurfacing surgery.
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Kane is doing just fine given these circumstances. And that’s all he needs to be doing right now.
The Red Wings have a legitimate chance to reach the postseason this year and currently own one of the East’s eight playoff spots. Kane chose to play in Detroit for this exact reason – the three-time Stanley Cup champion believes in Steve Yzerman’s vision, Derek Lalonde’s strategy, and the team’s talent.
Considering the severity of hip resurfacing surgery, Kane should be given leeway to ramp up. Give him until at least January to get up to speed. Then set expectations accordingly.
In the meantime, find comfort in knowing that Kane is already having a positive impact – viewership, attendance, and buzz about the team are all up. His on-ice contributions will be apparent soon enough.