Friday, 19 December 2014

Good In Both Zones

The Jets and Bruins tangled tonight, and it was a solid effort by a depleted roster that helped the Jets to the 2-1 win. As seen to the left, newest Jet Jay Harrison will wear #23 for the foreseeable future, and he had an impact already as he picked up an assist. On whose goal, you ask? Evander Kane's first period goal, and that brings us to tonight's topic: Kane's play as of late. While there's some concern about his projected totals this season, his play in the final minute of tonight's game is proof that he might be maturing as a player, and the results are encouraging.

We'll start with Kane's goal because he finally did what fans have been crying for since he rolled into town: he went to the net! Grant Clitsome's point shot was stopped by Tuukka Rask, but Kane beat his man to the net and was able to sweep the rebound into the net. For a guy who is known to be a power forward more than a finesse forward, he finally showed that he's willing to go to the high-traffic area to earn himself a point. Let's hope this continues.

However, it was his play in the final minute that really caught my attention. Kane, who had been out for the previous 45 seconds, was dead-tired as the Bruins pressed for the tying goal with six attackers. Kane, who is supposed to cover the point, never left his zone despite him running on fumes, and was the man who finally cleared the puck out of the zone thanks to him staying where he's supposed to be. In other words, he did his job defensively. And did it well!

Paul Maurice's confidence in his young star has never wavered from what he says, but there are definitely times in the past where Kane wouldn't be on the ice in that final minute. Kane has shown a penchant for back-checking in the last few months - along wit his teammates - and the commitment to defence has put Winnipeg into a playoff spot.

This writer won't lie when I suggested at the beginning of the season that the Jets would miss the playoffs if Kane wasn't a factor, but I was suggesting that he needed to be more of an offensive threat. Instead, Paul Maurice has him playing confident hockey in the defensive zone - something not seen from Kane since the Jets moved back from Atlanta!

Tonight, the Jets got the effort they needed from Kane on both ends of the ice, and it provides hope that his game is finally maturing into the complete package that Claude Noel was always trying to get out of him. This is the Evander Kane that can be considered one of the best wingers in the game of he brings this kind of effort nightly. This is the Evander Kane who can lead the Jets to the playoffs as long as he's putting this kind of game together every night.

The pat on the helmet from head coach Paul Maurice and the jostling from Chris Thorburn show the appreciation from both men when it comes to Kane's effort tonight. I'm quite certain that the curtain call for Kane when he was named as one of the three stars was the loudest cheer he's received from the Winnipeg fans to date. The fans here aren't dumb; they appreciate the effort that goes into winning. Blue-collar efforts like Kane gave tonight will win back his detractors in spades!

Tonight was one of Evander Kane's best games, and I'm happy to have witnessed it. All he has to do is follow it up with another game like tonight!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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