As the Chicago Blackhawks prepare to face the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Madhouse Enforcer is taking a look at some of the matchups that will be critical to determining who wins the series and gets into the Western Conference Final.
Today we’re taking a look at a pair of American born skaters who are both critical components to their team’s respective offenses, as Patrick Kane and Zach Parise prepare to duel in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
During the regular season, both players dealt with injuries, but both still put up good numbers when they were on the ice. Parise scored 29 goals for the Wild while adding 27 assists, and Kane put up the same goal total but contributed 13 more assists as the Blackhawks were once again one of the top offenses in the league.
As the playoffs have gotten started however, Parise has really picked up his scoring punch. In Minnesota’s Game 6 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, Parise scored twice and added two assists as his team forced a Game 7 with a key win. Overall in the series, Parise racked up three goals and seven assists in the seven games, and even though he didn’t score in the finale, the team still would not have been in position to win the series had it not been for his efforts.
In the Chicago-St. Louis series, Kane took more of a backseat role as Jonathan Toews really stepped to the forefront with his play. With three goals and three assists in six games, Kane did plenty right, including scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4 of the series, but it took him a little while to really get his skates under him as he made his return from the lower body injury that sidelined him for the final 10 games of the regular season.
With their play in the previous round in mind, and with their status on their respective teams in mind, the question becomes a simple one: which player is more valuable to their team going into the series: Kane or Parise? When the question is phrased like that, then Parise is going to win nine times of 10. Kane is a great player and is arguably the best American player in the game today, but without Parise, the Wild offense would largely sputter to a halt, and guys like Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle would be sitting ducks for an opposing defense. Without Kane in the lineup, the Blackhawks would suffer, but they still have players like Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Toews to pick up the slack, and the wide variety of role players the Hawks have that can score goals in key situations is simply staggering.
On a purely skill basis, we’ll take Kane narrowly over Parise, but when it comes to value to his team, the Wild alternate captain is the winner.