He is Patrick Kane and nobody else in the room or on the ice is. But we really haven’t seen Patrick Kane since he first stepped onto the ice wearing the Blueshirt on March 2, have we?
We haven’t seen the real Patrick Kane since he and the Rangers organization fulfilled their shared manifest destiny by bringing No. 88 to Broadway from the City of Broad Shoulders at the deadline.
Or have we?
Is what we have seen from Kane in 19 contests during the regular season and Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Devils — in which the winger has been decent but has failed to make an obvious impact — all we are going to get from the 34-year-old who is managing a long-term hip issue that will be addressed in the offseason?
“There’s more that I have to give. People should expect more from me,” Kane told The Post following Wednesday’s practice in Newark ahead of Thursday’s Game 2. “I think there have been some good moments, but it hasn’t really been as consistent yet.
“It’s always a new game and a new challenge and the exciting part of the game is that you get another chance tomorrow night to try and build that.”
Kane recorded 12 points (5-7) during his 19 regular-season contests as a Ranger with one assist on the power play in Tuesday’s 5-1 victory. The playoff opener marked his fifth game on the unit with Mika Zibanejad in the middle and Chris Kreider on the left. The line’s underlying numbers were not impressive on a very impressive night for the team. The three marquee forwards were unable to generate offense.
But Kane and his unit are works in progress. Sixteen years as a Blackhawk might literally have disappeared overnight, but real life transitions don’t work that way. Kane is still the new kid in class.
“I always try and create scoring chances, that’s been the biggest thing for me throughout the years, just to have the puck as much as possible and try to create that way,” said Kane, who got 15:24 of ice time Tuesday. “Obviously it’s been a little bit of a challenge to do that since I’ve been here.
“This team plays a different way. They have their star players here and the guys they look for on the ice which I feel is different, especially from Chicago where I was always the guy. I was always the go-to guy, whereas there are six or seven go-to guys here now.”
Understand. Kane was not complaining, but instead responding to a series of questions. No one wants to disrespect Kane. No one has reason to disrespect Kane, who has been the ultimate professional since joining the Rangers. It’s just that Kane has not yet been the impact player he was projected to be. Has not been Kane.
I don’t think anyone is waiting for the Kane of his age-27 Hart season of 2015-16 in which he recorded 46 goals and 106 points to materialize. But it is probably not unfair to wait for a glimpse of the 34-year-old who was electric in scoring seven goals in his final four games for the Blackhawks two months ago.
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Kane has not been dynamic, but he is working diligently without the puck and in the defensive zone. This is not what any player wants as his bottom line — and certainly not a pending slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer — but Kane is not hurting the Rangers, who are 12-5-3 with him in the lineup, including Tuesday.
“I am still trying to find ways to get the puck more while getting used to playing a little bit different kind of a game,” he said. “Not that it’s so much different or that I should change a lot, but I’m still adjusting to a different team and playing with new players in a different system.”
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Kane said that he is not being hampered physically. Indeed, he seemed encouraged off Game 1. He may own three Stanley Cup rings, but this represented his first playoff experience since the 2020 bubble and second since 2016.
“It feels pretty good. I’m happy with the way everything feels today,” Kane said when asked about his lower-body issues. “I’m just excited to be back in the playoffs.
“Sometimes you haven’t played in the playoffs for a while and maybe you overthink things a little bit. But my body feels good, I’m happy with the way I’m feeling and I’m just trying to get better and better.”
Kane was part of the first power-play unit on which Kreider scored on a pair of deflections. The group moved the puck crisply around the zone before the second goal, with Kane picking up the secondary assist to boost his career postseason total to 133 points (52-81) in 137 matches.
“I feel we’ve created some chemistry on the power play with that unit, the options we have and the success we’ve had the last little while,” he said. “So that’s been good. Now you try to build off that, get a couple of good touches on the power play, feel good about yourself, and hopefully that extends to five-on-five play.”
He is Patrick Kane. Really, he is. It is only a matter of time before he reminds us of that.
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