CHICAGO -- As is probably the case for everyone else in the Windy City, the anticipation for Game Six of the Stanley Cup final is killing Patrick Kane.
Kane, like many of the veteran Chicago Blackhawks, has already played several hundred games in his NHL career. But the South Buffalo native has never played one like tonight, with a victory clinching the Cup for the Hawks in front of their home fans for the first time since 1938.
"It's a chance for this organization to do something special," Kane said after today's morning skate in the United Center. "It's one of things where you're tossing and turning, your mind is racing. At this time of year, everybody is thinking about what's going to happen. The best thing is go out and play, let your mind rest."
Easier said than done. Kane said Chicago players talked about all the distractions surrounding this game when they met here yesterday and took care of families, tickets and the like on Sunday. Today is all business.
"We know this is the game we could win the Cup and it would be special to win it here at home," Kane said. "But let's focus on winning one hockey game and all the other storylines will stick out."
But Kane admitted that's no small task.
"It's tough to put your mind off that and think about other things that don't include the end result of winning here tonight. It's going to be in your mind no matter what," he said. "When you're away from the rink, you try to shut your mind off and try not to worry about everything that could happen. When you get to rink, turn it back on and try to get yourself as ready as possible. It's a great situation to be in. We'd rather be in this situation having our minds racing and thinking about all the things that can happen tonight than not. It's a pretty fun day."
It would certainly be more fun if Kane could add to the offense. He has one lone assist so far and only 11 shots on goal in five games as he's been dogged by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman.
"He's a special player. Not only is he big and has a big stick but he's smart and has all the tools to lock something down," Kane said. "He's definitely been impressive and you have to be aware who's out there but worrying about one specific guy can backfire on your a little bit.
"Both teams had a mindset of playing defense and are aware of the offensive abilities on the other side. It's one of those situations where it's a tight-checking series and there's not a lot of room out there. When you do get chances, you try to take advantage of them. A lot of us coming into this series thought it was going to be played out a little bit different, to be honest with you. It's the been exact opposite of how you thought."
Kane scored the overtime winner in 2010 as the Blackhawks beat Philadelphia to win the Cup. He said that moment, in which he beat current Chicago teammate Kimmo Timonen, seems like yesterday.
"It's a great moment, something that will stand out in a lot of our careers for a long time," Kane said. "Especially mine with what happened. Something I'll never forget. Nothing will ever take that moment and that day away."
The Blackhawks are on the cusp of their third Cup in six years, which is a pretty remarkable accomplishment in the salary cap era. They've played in five Western Conference finals in the last seven years. Heady stuff all around, but tonight could be a moment to outshine all their previous accomplishments.
"You've got to realize how fortunate you are, right? it's not something everyone is going through," Kane said. "Not just in the game of hockey but pretty much any sport to have this opportunity to play for three in six years ... We’ve played in a lot of meaningful hockey games. I don’t want to say it’s something we’re accustomed used to and something we’re used to, but I think we’re fortunate to be in these situations and I think we’ve worked hard for it too. I think it’s something we all deserve.”