Good news: Evander Kane came into the 2017-2018 NHL season ready to play.
Bad news: It seems like he might be the only one, at least on the Buffalo Sabres. Kane's been hot, but the rest of the team has been ice cold.
Let’s focus on the good, as Kane’s play has been a shining moment among the Sabres’ first three games this season - all losses.
In just three games, the 26-year-old left winger has already notched six points. He’s registered four goals and two assists, including one goal on the man advantage.
Kane also leads the NHL in shorthanded goals (2) and leads the league in shots on goal (26). Dallas’ Tyler Seguin has 19 shots this season, while back-to-back hat-trick man Alex Ovechkin has 18. Kane’s 26 shots account for about 26 percent of the team’s overall shots - a great statistic for him, but not so great for his teammates.The Buffalo Sabres winger is putting pucks on net, and it’s paying off - at least for him. Last season, Kane totalled 43 points (28 goals, 15 assists) in 70 games played. He also notched 260 shots on goal, averaging 3.714 shots per game.
This season, if he plays all 82 games, he’s currently on pace for a 164-point campaign, though it’s perhaps not likely he maintains this pace all season long. He’s also on pace for 710 shots on goal over the course of the season - again, a pace not exactly sustainable on a season-long basis.
Let’s take a look at Kane’s season thus far:
As the Sabres opened the season last Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, Kane opened his season with an assist on Jason Pominville’s second goal. Kane finished that game a plus-one, with a whopping 11 shots on goal.
This past Saturday, the team fell to the NY Islanders 6-3, but again, it was a solid night offensively for Kane. His three-point campaign included a pair of goals and an assist, and he led the Sabres in shots again, with eight this time.
Finally, as the Sabres dropped a 6-2 decision to the New Jersey Devils on Monday afternoon, Kane was roaring to go again. It marked his second straight two-goal game and included a beautiful power play goal. In addition to the goals, Kane had seven shots and six hits in Monday’s loss.
The fact is, while Kane is on a hot streak, he can only take the Sabres so far & can’t fully carry them to victory. His four goals are a great stat line, but not so fantastic when you consider the team as a whole has only scored seven.
Secondary scoring needs to step up, with guys like Ryan O’Reilly on call for increased point production. Goaltending needs to be strong; and of course, the defense needs to be there too.
The Sabres now face a tough test as they head west for four games against San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Vegas. Can Kane continue his offensive streak? (Possibly.) Will other members of the Buffalo Sabres organization step up? (Hopefully.) And of course - can the team find success and notch their first win of the season? Only time will tell.