Five Questions: USA's Kane keeps eyes set on gold
SOCHI -- Patrick Kane spent Monday, an off day for the United States players, tooling around Olympic Park on a bicycle and spending some time with his family at the NHL Players Association's headquarters here.
The free time gave him a chance to reflect on what had transpired in the first week at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and contemplate what lies ahead for the Americans, who play Wednesday in the quarterfinals against either Slovakia or the Czech Republic.
The U.S. won Group A and finished second in the preliminary round with three wins and eight of a possible nine points. Kane has three assists but no goals, and only nine shots on goal.
He sat down with NHL.com to discuss his thoughts about his play in the Olympics, how the U.S. team is feeling and what his experience in Sochi has been like.
Here are Five Questions with … Patrick Kane:
Through three games the U.S. has two lines going, Paul Stastny's line and Joe Pavelski's line. You're not on either. What do you have to do to elevate your team into a dangerous four-line team?
"I think you're trying to get chemistry with your linemates and it doesn't really come right away. I think we're still kind of learning how each other plays. After that the biggest thing is we've got to work to get the puck back and when we do get the puck back we've got to hold on to it, not just throw it away. I think that's been the biggest thing. Sometimes you work so hard to get it back and it seems like we're giving it away right away. I guess this kind of thing happened in 2010 too with myself, where I started off a little bit slow and as the tournament went on I got better and better. That's what I'm hoping happens here."
But you have had scoring chances, including the breakaway in overtime against Russia. Are you satisfied with the chances you are getting?
"I feel if I look at every game I had a couple of good chances to score every game so I guess that's what you want to do. But you always think and feel that you can generate more, especially when they're not going in. I would say no, I am not satisfied with what I'm generating. It's nice to get a few here and there but I think I can do more. Something I have talked to the coaches about is maybe shooting early on in the game to see what that generates and what develops out of it. As the game goes on maybe the next play opens up because I shot early on. I'll try to shoot some more and at the same time, if the right play is there to be made, I'll try to do that too."
Regardless of who is scoring, the team is right where it wants to be. Has your belief gone up after three games? Have you gone from thinking you can win the gold medal to believing you should win the gold medal based on how you have played thus far?
"I think it definitely has been growing since we got here. I think the confidence is at a pretty good level right now. I think that's something you've got to be careful about too. You look at the situation you're in, three games left hopefully, and it's going to be a good test. We play the Czechs or the Slovaks next. If we win there it looks like we could run into Canada, and then we'll see from there. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be an exciting run. I'm looking forward to it for sure."
What has this Olympic experience been like for you so far?
"The support has been overwhelming from back home. I don't think you realize how many people actually watch and tune in and are tuning in for every game. That really doesn't become evident until you get to a spot where you can have some WiFi and check your messages, but it's amazing. I think it's great for hockey. It's great for the game. It's great for the players to do this. We're having a blast. I think it's something that has to be in the game for a long time. You can see that, just how good it is for hockey in general with how many people tune in. It seems like in the Winter Olympics there is something special about ice hockey, whether it's the buildup to the tournament or as the tournament goes on you have some great matchups. I mean, how many people woke up and how many bars were open back home just for that Russia game at like 6 or 7 a.m.? It's pretty crazy. All the players want to be a part of this. I think the NHL probably knows that too. It's good for the game. The NHL knows that. The players know that. We enjoy it. We have fun with it. Once you're here and everything is settled, it's just a blast."
What is life in the athlete's village like?
"Pretty quiet. I've been rooming with Ryan Callahan, so we've gotten to know each other pretty well just from being in our room a lot. The U.S. team got us bikes, so we wake up, bike over to the dining hall, eat, bike back, chill and watch the Olympics on TV, talk about hockey or talk about whatever. We've been playing at 4:30 so we usually have a bus over to the USA House, eat our pregame meal there, come back, take like an hour nap and get up and go to the rink. After we pretty much just eat and hang out again. It's funny; with these days off you don't really know what to do so it's almost like you want to practice, you want to be on the ice just to have something to do throughout the day. Guys are going up to the mountains, going to different events here and there, some other hockey games. It's been pretty good. We're in our own little world here."
One bonus question for you: Let's look back at the Russia game. Describe being in that game and compare it to another game.
"Man, I mean it was similar to playing Canada in Canada. That's the only other game that would come close to that kind of situation. The [Stanley] Cup Final, it kind of builds up as it goes on. It starts to get really loud and intense. I mean, I've been in United Center when you can't hear a thing even on your own bench because it's so loud. This is different, though. When the Russians are booing us they're blowing the whistles, blowing the horns; it's not like they're booing. My family said all the Russian fans in the crowd were so nice, and you're probably not going to get that in Philly or Boston, right? And then it's USA vs. Russia, you're playing for your country. It's such a unique situation, so the only thing I could compare it to is when we played Canada in Canada in 2010."