WINNIPEG - Evander Kane is quick to guard against complacency.
While the Winnipeg Jets left-winger is thrilled to be riding a streak that’s produced seven goals and 10 points over the past eight games to take over the team scoring lead, he’s not about to let up in his quest to improve.
“The first few games wasn’t how I wanted to start, but I wanted to continue to work hard and battle through it and I’ve been on a pretty good pace over the last 10 or so games,” said Kane, who has 12 goals and 19 points in 24 games this season. “I don’t know if a whole lot has changed, I’m just executing and doing what I want to do a little bit better. I want to continue to get better, grow. Coming into the year, I wanted to be more consistent and so far, I’ve done that, for the most part. With this being my third year, it’s a big year for me and I wanted to come in here and make a statement and continue to make a statement.
“I definitely want more and I’m not satisfied with where I am right now. Being the player that I am, I want to be better, produce more and be consistent throughout the entire season. I’ve always been confident, it’s more being comfortable on the ice and that (confidence) can be a big part to you tapping into what you can do on the ice and bringing those skills to the forefront.”
The Jets continue a five-game homestand on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils and are looking to build on a 1-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday.
“We’re getting better and last game was a clear definition of being able to close a game out 1-0 and proving to ourselves that we’re able to do that,” said Kane, now in his third NHL season after the Atlanta Thrashers selected him fourth overall in 2009. “It was a real positive for us.”
When he’s moving his feet and taking the body like he’s been of late, Kane has been a handful for opponents trying to slow him down.
Coming into the campaign, Kane let it be known he planned to produce more than the career-high 19 goals and 43 points he managed in 73 games last season.
One of the things Kane worked on extensively during the off-season was his shot and he did it the old-fashioned way.
“Line ‘em up and shoot them. I got the Shooter Tutor out,” said Kane, who has made more than one goalie look like a Shooter Tutor this season. “It’s easy to score on a Shooter Tutor, it’s all about picking corners. If you hit it nine times out of 10, the percentages are pretty good. If you’re hitting it one out of 10, you might need to work on hitting the corners a little better.
“I’m getting bigger and stronger and that helps with your shot as well.”
Kane seems to be flourishing since moving to a line with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler.
“He’s so fast and big,” Little said. “If he takes it to the net or makes a move, you almost have to take him down. He’s great at drawing penalties and getting scoring chances off the rush.”
“He’s playing unbelievable, it’s the best I’ve seen him,” added Jets goalie Chris Mason. “It’s night and day. From the beginning of the season — and even from last season — he’s grown so much. He has a better understanding of the game and he’s just so powerful. He’s getting his shot off a little quicker and he’s really ripping it right now.”
Mason isn’t the only one who’s seeing the growth.
“What I seem to see a little bit more is maturity in his game and an acceptance of what he has to do to become the player he sees himself being,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said. “He sees himself as a power forward that can finish and I think he can be that player. He’s got a little ways to go, but he’s taking some great strides and great steps.
“He’s been tremendous in doing the things I’ve talked to him briefly about. He’s really repaired a lot of the things on his own. I see consistency both offensively and defensively and that’s what really helps because now I’m getting to the point where I trust him in our zone and I can put him out at the end of the game.”