DETROIT – Patrick Kane glanced at the scoresheet and noticed he was one of three Chicago Blackhawks held without a shot by the Detroit Red Wings after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
“This isn’t good,” Kane recalled saying.
No, that isn’t what you’re looking for if you play, coach or root for the Blackhawks.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings have been winning without getting goals from usually reliable scorers Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa and Tomas Holmstrom.
Kane, though, acknowledged Chicago can’t be successful if he’s held without a point as he was in Detroit’s 5-2 win Sunday.
“That’s why I was brought in here as a draft pick,” Kane, the first overall selection in 2007, said Monday. “I’m not out there to be blocking shots and fighting guys.”
The reigning NHL rookie of the year scored eight goals over the first two rounds against Calgary and Vancouver, but quickly found out his crafty moves and soft hands can be negated by Detroit.
Kane was held without a shot after getting blanked in the column just three times during the regular season, including once last month against the Red Wings.
When Kane has the puck, he has to deal with six-time Norris Trophy winning defenceman Nick Lidstrom in his face and a slew of backchecking forwards.
“Every time I got the puck, it seemed like two or three guys were collapsing on me,” Kane said.
Jonathan Toews knows the feeling.
The Blackhawks’ other young star also discovered playing the Flames or Canucks isn’t quite like facing Detroit as he was held to three shots and no points in the series opener.
“It’s a different game now,” said Toews, who contributed a combined 10 points in the first two rounds. “Everything is a little tighter.
“We didn’t play well enough against their best players. But we can play looser because it’s not going to get worse than that.”
Actually, it might.
When Detroit wants to shut down a star or two, it usually can.
During the Stanley Cup finals last year, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby was held without a point in the first two games of the series and scored in just one of the six games while teammate Evgeni Malkin went four games without a point and scored only in the finale.
Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg was named MVP of the playoffs in part for his play at the defensive end against the Penguins.
His best play might’ve been when he clamped down on Crosby’s stick near the net, denying him during a Pittsburgh 5-on-3 power play to seal one of Detroit’s victories.
“Scoring goals is probably is a little bit more fun,” Zetterberg said. “But the chance to play against good players and keep them from scoring is fun, too.”
Zetterberg insisted he didn’t know Kane had as many shots as the fans in the stands Sunday, but said the fact was misleading.
“I thought he was dangerous a few times,” Zetterberg said. “When you give him time and space, he will create something out of nothing. I don’t think he played as bad as everyone says.”
The Red Wings are saying much of the same about Datsyuk, Hossa and Holmstrom.
Datsyuk, an MVP finalist, hasn’t scored in the last 10 games of the playoffs. Hossa, who had a team-high 40 goals in the regular season, has scored in just two of 12 games this post-season. Holmstrom hasn’t contributed a point in the eight games since he had two goals and two assists in the first-round sweep against Columbus.
“As long as we’re winning,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “I’m not concerned.”
Detroit has rarely had to worry about its top stars carrying the team because of its depth as Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has seen up close four times in the playoffs since 1997.
The Red Wings have eliminated Quenneville-coached teams in each of their last four championship seasons, sending him home three times when he led St. Louis and last year as he led Colorado.
Quenneville said the salary cap created after the lockout did nothing to diminish Detroit’s ability to get scoring from all four lines.
“There hasn’t been any drop-off over the different teams they’ve had,” Quenneville said. “Not too many teams in the league have as many guys that can make plays.
“That’s a compliment to the organization. But at the same time I’m not dishing out compliments here, we want to beat them.”