Kane finds consistency amid inconsistency

CHICAGO -- In a season where Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane hasn’t had the luxury of skating with consistent linemates, he has been more consistent than anyone offensively on the Blackhawks. His linemates have often changed from game to game, but he’s continued to rack up points and still ranks among the league’s leaders in goals and assists.

“I’ve always been a guy who doesn’t think it matters who you play with,” said Kane, who leads the Blackhawks and is tied for fourth in the NHL with 51 points. “I think as long as you’re working hard, you’re supporting each other, trying to make the right plays and simple plays, you’re going to have success. That’s what I’ve tried to stress to either one of my linemates.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s plan entering the season was utilize Kane alongside Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland on the second line. Quenneville has been able to execute that plan in just 18 games. Because of various injuries, Sharp and Bolland have combined to miss 28 games.

In their place, Quenneville has mixed and matched a variety of linemates with Kane. Kane has started games with 10 different pairings and skated with nine different players on the second line.

Aside from the 18 games with Bolland and Sharp, Kane has started nine games with Bolland and Jimmy Hayes, seven games with Sharp and Marcus Kruger, three games with Bolland and Kruger, two games with Kruger and Daniel Carcillo, one game with Bolland and Michael Frolik, one game with Bolland and Carcillo, one game with Bolland and Bryan Bickell, one game with Sharp and Andrew Shaw and one game with Bolland and Viktor Stalberg.

Despite all the changes, Kane’s play hasn’t fluctuated. He’s recorded a point in 33 of his 44 games this season. He once went three games without a point and once two games. Other than that, he’s bounced back six times with a point after not having one the game before.

Kane has had two eight-game point streaks and another of five games. He had 10 points in seven games in January, 14 points in 13 games in February, 18 points in 14 games in March and currently has nine points in 10 games in April. He started April off slow, but has registered five points in his last three games.

“I think there’s been some injuries obviously to both of my linemates,” said Kane, who has 21 goals and 30 assists. “There’s been certain guys who have played well in those roles, certain guys I have kind of clicked off with. I know it’s changed a little bit, but for me, personally, just try to work hard, find my game where it was at the beginning of the season and get back to that level.”

Quenneville has been impressed with Kane from the start of the season to the end of it. Quenneville recently said he thought Kane and Jonathan Toews were worthy of Hart Memorial Trophy consideration.

“I think all year long he’s been productive,” Quenneville said of Kane last week. “That line has a lot of different looks on it be it your centerman, be it your left winger. He’s played [with] some different [lines.] He keeps doing his thing.

“It seems like he’s got the puck a lot. He’s a threat. He gives the opponent something to be concerned about when he’s on the ice. When you got that 1-2 punch [in lines,] I think that makes us a different type of team.”