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5 Things: Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, Part Deux

Isn't great chemistry and a pile of points where we left off with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad in last year's playoffs?

Nobody wearing a Lightning sweater is allowed to read this "5 Things" blog. So there.

1. Is it just me or does Brandon Saad look faster when he skates with Patrick Kane?

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Maybe Kane does that to everybody not named Michal Handzus.

Whatever, Saad certainly looks more devastating of late, same as he looked last year at the end of the Kings series.

Saad has scored three goals in the last four games, two in the last two after drawing the golden ticket when Kane and Jonathan Toews were reunited. But it's not all them.

Saad's back-door goal in Game 7 against the Ducks in the Western Conference finals came on a play he started. Chipping and chasing the puck, Saad then rimmed it around the boards, where Johnny Oduya made a great read and strong play to outmuscle Ryan Getzlaf.

The puck bounced into the slot to Kane, who looked like he was loading up for a shot, but then brilliantly slid the puck to a wide-open Saad at the right post with a wide-open net in front of him.

It looked too easy, but it can be hard skating with Kane. Forwards need to be smart as well as fast. It's easy to become mesmerized when he has the puck, but that's for fans and the media. Linemates must keep moving, finding open spaces and keeping their sticks down because you never know when the pass is coming, but it's coming, you betcha.

The thing about Saad is, even his misses look exceptionally fast on the many odd-man breaks he has created.

This kind of excitement and production is where we left off with Saad and Kane in 2014. Skating with Andrew Shaw in the middle, Kane and Saad created an Uzi of a line that nearly saved the Hawks from losing to the Kings in the conference finals.

Put together near the end of that series in coach Joel Quenneville's career-long game of toy soldiers, that line racked up four goals and 19 points in the last three games.

Granted, some of those points came during power plays, but still, it appeared that Kane and Saad would be linemates for the next 10 years as Saad grew into his description as a mini-Hossa.

Alas, it didn't happen as originally imagined, the way many things don't under Quenneville.

And then magically it did, the way many successful things eventually do under him.

There are no guarantees Jonathan Toews, Kane and Saad will start as a thing in the Stanley Cup Final or remain a thing if they do.

But just wait till Game 5.

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2. After not scoring in more than 20 straight playoff games, Marian Hossa suddenly has four goals in his last eight games, capped by what turned out to be the winner in Game 7 of the conference finals.

Hossa always has contributed all over the ice in every situation you could want, from the power play to penalty killing to regular shifts. Even at 36, he's the gold standard of two-way players on the Hawks.

The full measure of his amazing abilities came in the third period with the Ducks pressing after cutting the Hawks' lead to 4-2. Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler tried to move the puck into the left circle, but Hossa poke-checked it and rocketed up the ice.

The Hawks looked like they had another odd-man break before Fowler was forced to hook the Transformer-like Hossa. Brent Seabrook scored on the ensuing power play for a 5-2 lead.

Hossa finished the series with three goals, five points and a plus-3 rating while skating with different linemates after Quenneville reunited Wolverine and Harry Potter on the top line.

Using the Score-Adjusted Corsi For metric at war-on-ice.com, Hossa and new linemate Brad Richards finished Game 7 with better puck-possession plus-minus numbers than Toews and Kane, and the latter two were amazing.

3. Richards improved to an amazing 8-0 in Game 7s, becoming the first player in history to win that many in a row, and now will face the team with which he won a Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2004.

The Hawks signed Richards from the Rangers for just $2 million after losing out to the Ducks on Ryan Kesler.

The Ducks dealt two young players and two draft picks for Kesler. The Hawks refused to trade Teuvo Teravainen.

The Ducks are at home. Teravainen and Richards will play for the Cup.

4. I've always believed Game 1 was the easiest to win in the finals for several reasons: The teams don't hate each other the way playoff teams need to and ultimately will, and there's a lack of familiarity with the speed and styles of the opposing teams.

That favors the veteran Hawks for several reasons: They can play any style and win, plus they can play patiently while the young, amped-up Lightning and their amped-up fans likely will mix excitement with anxiety and impatience, the type of stuff that leads to mistakes.

5. Ben Bishop is not only the biggest goalie the Hawks have faced this postseason, but appears to be the biggest enigma if you go by home-road splits.

The 6-foot-7 Bishop just shut out the Rangers in Games 5 and 7 in Madison Square Garden to win the Eastern Conference finals, which is a pretty big deal.

At the same time, Bishop was a sieve in Amalie Arena, allowing five goals in each of the Lightning's last three home games.

And it's not just recently, either. Get a load of Bishop's splits this postseason:

--Road goals-against average of 1.45 and save percentage of .947;

--Home goals-against average of 2.93 and save percentage of .888.

Conventional thinking would have those trends reversed. It's odd. It's inexplicable. It's a good thing for the Hawks that the Lightning have home-ice disadvantage.

a. Two of the four referees picked to work the finals are Wes McCauley and Kevin Pollock. They are the two officials who watched Anaheim's Clayton Stoner crosscheck Andrew Shaw in the face after the whistle in Game 2 but refused to penalize him for it.

This, mind you, in a league facing a potentially massive payout for head hits. So, the finals could be a hoot for Gary Bettman.

b. Of the Lightning's 55 goals this postseason, 45 have come from the Steven Stamkos line and the Triplets centered by Tyler Johnson.

By comparison, the Hawks have gotten 31 of their 56 goals from the six forwards who made up their top two lines at the end of the conference finals. That speaks to the Hawks' depth advantage up front.

If you want to compare defensemen, the Lightning blueliners have five goals, or one fewer than Seabrook.

c. The first president and general manager of the Lightning was former Hawks center Phil Esposito. The first scout he hired was brother Tony, the Hawks Hall-of-Famer and former goalie.

After the Pritzkers pulled their financial backing, Phil Esposito recruited Japanese investors to plunk down all $50 million of the expansion fee up front. He said the deal was struck after a series of "drinkipoos.''

Yes, "drinkipoos.'' That's the word Esposito used. I swear. I was there when he said it. "Drinkipoos.''

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You'll remember that all day, won't you? In fact, it'll be the only thing you remember from this post, right?

Thanks a lot.

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