Patrick Kane seeks personal improvement by reading "Twilight" books

Thumbnail image for Kane8.jpgLeave it to Patrick Kane to be perhaps the most fascinating NHL superstar of the summer. After scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks, he’s been mesmerizing to watch in the public eye. From his on-ice interviews after winning the Cup, to his obviously intoxicated behavior throughout the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, to his day with the Stanley Cup that saw him both go to Niagara Falls and get stuck in a fire truck basket, it’s been a cavalcade of stunning amazement. And that’s not even going into all the bad PR he got before the season even started.

Today, we find out that Patrick Kane is indeed trying to improve his public image and straighten things up for himself personally. Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune got to follow Patrick Kane around Buffalo as he spent his day with the Stanley Cup and got to find out that Kane is trying to better himself through taking up reading books. No, he’s not reading Melville, Shakespeare or even Ayn Rand.

He’s reading about Twilight.

The color drained from Patrick Kane’s face when he was confronted with the knowledge of how he has spent part of his offseason after helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.

It was his mother, Donna, who caught the 21-year-old in the act — of reading a book.

While the fourth installment of the “Twilight” series isn’t exactly Tolstoy, the image of Kane in the bedroom of his Buffalo childhood home, curled up with a book instead of carousing on the streets of his hometown, is fairly startling.

“Ohhhh,” Kane said with a laugh after regaining his composure. “She would throw me under the bus like that. I watched the first three movies and was really interested … so I decided to read the fourth book. I kind of snuck it in there, and she walked in a couple of times with me reading the book. I tried to hide it, but it wasn’t happening.”

The amusement that comes from Patrick Kane just living the way that he does just kind of off the cuff is pretty incredible. While myself and I’m sure many others like me will sit back and just shake their head muttering, “Twilight? Really?” you have to admit that whatever it is that it takes for Kane to straighten up has to be a good thing.

While he hasn’t exactly been public enemy number one when it comes to running afoul of the law both on and off the ice, having one overly-boozed up incident in your hometown that gets the attention of the world should be enough to make you re-think one’s priorities in life. If it takes reading about “vampires” that sparkle in the sun to help you keep from punching out cabbies in a dispute over pocket change then by all means, read on.

With that all said, I’d give anything I had to have Patrick Kane wear a microphone all season long to get a sampling of the trash talk he’s sure to endure all season long because of this revelation about becoming a big Stephanie Meyer fan. It’s moments like this where I’d love to hear what Paul “BizNasty” Bissonette would say about it.

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    Slow start pushes Marner to Maple Leafs’ fourth line

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the pleasant surprises of the 2016-17 season. The biggest reason they were able to make the playoffs last year was because of the play of their three terrific rookies: Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

    Matthews and Nylander are off to roaring starts (Matthews has eight points in five games, Nylander has five points in five games). But things haven’t gone as well for Marner, who has a four points in five games.

    That’s far from a poor point total for the sophomore forward, but head coach Mike Babcock hasn’t been impressed with his overall play (for whatever it’s worth, he’s a minus-6 this season).

    On Monday, Babcock tweaked his lines, which shocked the fans and media in Toronto. Marner was no longer skating on a line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk. Instead, he was with Dominic Moore and Matt Martin on the fourth line.

    “Their line wasn’t going, so tie goes to the veterans,” Babcock said, per the Toronto Sun. “(Marner) just happens to be the kid on the line, that’s it. Let’s not read too much into that. You have to have all your units going and we’re trying to do that. It was a big win in Montreal (on Saturday), but saying that, we didn’t generate a lot and they did.”

    If you thought the Leafs coach was just trying to send a message for one day on Monday, guess again. Marner was right back out on the fourth line during Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of tonight’s game against Washington.

    It looks like Babcock is serious about this wake up call.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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    NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Lightning vs. Devils; Canadiens vs. Sharks

    The Buzzer: Nikita Kucherov just keeps scoring goals

    NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Lightning vs. Devils; Canadiens vs. Sharks

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    NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Tuesday night. In the early game, the New Jersey Devils host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here

    The Lightning are coming off a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. For the sixth game in a row, Nikita Kucherov managed to find the back of the net (he actually scored twice, including the game-winner).

    When injuries were piling up for the Bolts last season, the Russian winger was the guy they relied on to get the job done. This season, that hasn’t changed. The Lightning are healthier than they were a year ago, but he just keeps on rolling.

    Another player who’s performed well, is goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The young netminder became the full-time starter when the Lightning traded Ben Bishop to the Kings last season. Although he had some ups and downs last year, he’s been terrific this season.

    His individual numbers might not jump off the page (3.00 goals-against-average and a .914 save percentage), but he’s come up with a number of big saves already in 2017-18. Last night’s game against the Wings was no different.

    “He’s our starter for a reason,” head coach Jon Cooper said after the win over the Wings, per the Tampa Times. “If you want to win in this league, you have to check and you need your goaltender to bail you out on occasions. And the times we haven’t been checking, Vasy has bailed us out.”

    After missing the playoffs last season, many expected the Lightning to be better now. The same can not be said for the Devils, but they’ve been one of the pleasant surprises so far.

    New Jersey has a 4-1-0 record and they own a plus-8 goal differential. This young team has really come together early, and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re able to keep it together.

    Rookies Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt have been nothing short of fantastic in the early going. Butcher, who the Devils signed as a college free agent this summer, has eight assists in five games. Bratt has accumulated six points in five contests, which isn’t bad for a 19-year-old drafted in the sixth round.

    “He’s a good player,” forward Drew Stafford said of Butcher, per NJ.com. “You guys are seeing that. Doesn’t really surprise me anymore. He’s a heck of a player, so for him to have the success that he’s had so far — granted, it’s power play — but that’s something I feel like he can ride as far as he can.”

    In the late game, the San Jose Sharks host the Montreal Canadiens at 10:00 p.m. ET. To stream that game live, click here

    It’s been a tough start to the year for the Canadiens, as they’ve managed to come away with one win in their first five contests.

    Despite adding Jonathan Drouin this off-season and having Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and a few others, Montreal is still the only team in the league to has played five games and scored less than 10 goals.

    They scored a season-high three goals against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, but they fell 4-3 in overtime thanks to Auston Matthews‘ game-winner.

    “I think our guys are focused on what needs to be done internally, inside the dressing room, and what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Claude Julien said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I think so far they’ve done a pretty good job of that. There’s no doubt when you got some guys that are goal-scorers that haven’t scored yet … it’s a normal thing that they might be squeezing the stick a little bit. But that’s what they got to overcome and that’s what we got to try and do and improve our game as we go along here.”

    Pacioretty scored a goal in the season opener against Buffalo, but he hasn’t found the back of the net since. Drouin and Galchenyuk both netted their first goals of the season on Saturday night. Three goals in five games from those three players simply isn’t enough.

    This will be the first of a three-game road swing in California that never seems to treat the Canadiens well.

    Things haven’t been much better for the San Jose Sharks, as they have just one win in four contests.

    “It’s on us as players,” Logan Couture said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “If we’re playing well, then the lines aren’t going to change. If we’re not, then they’re going to change them around. How we play will dictate what the lineup is.

    “No one’s scoring. You could say our line’s not scoring and we’re not, but no one is. As a team, we’ve got to find ways to create some more offense.”

    The Sharks have scored eight goals, like Montreal, but in one less game. Kevin Labanc has three of the eight markers.

    If you’re a betting person, you may want to look at the under in this one, but weird things seem to happen when east coast teams go play out west.

    Enjoy the hockey!

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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    PHT Morning Skate: 5 players that are off to slow starts this season

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    –The Score looks at five players that are off to slow starts in 2017-18. Brent Burns was incredibly productive in the first half of last season, but he’s been awfully quiet so far. (The Score)

    –Speaking of players that are struggling, Antoine Roussel is off to a disappointing start with Dallas. He was one of the top possession players on the Stars roster, but the results just haven’t been there. There’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around though. (defendingbigd.com)

    –The Montreal Canadiens are off to a rough start this season, but Montreal Gazette columnist Jack Todd believes they have what it takes to turn it around. Carey Price can be better, Jonathan Drouin can contribute more offensively and Max Pacioretty can score more goals. (Montreal Gazette)

    –A lot of Nikita Kucherov‘s success comes from being unpredictable. One thing he worked on this off-season was improving his backhander. “It’s a tough league, you have to make chances out of nothing. Look at those guys, Kane, Crosby, watch them and it’s a huge part of their game. It’s something I want to add to my game and be better at.” (Tampa Bay Times)

    –Even though the NHL added concussion spotters in 2015-16, their system is far from perfect. On Friday night, Marc-Andre Fleury took a knee to the head and he was allowed to stay in the game. Fleury is now out indefinitely. It’s time for the NHL to improve this whole process. (fanragsports.com)

    –The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the rare teams that are loaded with young depth at the AHL level. They’re so deep that some are wondering if they should loan out some of their prospects to other AHL teams instead of sending them to the ECHL. (faceoffcircle.ca)

    –The Nashville Predators were one of the few eight seeds that made a run to the Stanley Cup Final. Before you draw hope for your team based on the Preds’ accomplishments, you might want realize that they weren’t your typical eighth seed based on the numbers they put up last season. (ontheforecheck.com)

    –Every fall, EA Sports releases a new NHL video game that gets people excited for hockey season. Operation Sports looks at ways EA can improve game play. Better passing control? More elaborate dekes? Sign us up. (operationsports.com)

    Taylor Hall is known for his play on the ice, but his social media game is pretty strong, too. Just ask former teammate Jordan Eberle, who found that out the hard way after he chirped Hall on Twitter. (Sports Illustrated)

    –We don’t know if Matt Duchene will ever be traded. But regardless of where he plays this season, what kind of upside does he have? Although Duchene is off to a good start, there’s a good chance his numbers will come down a little bit. (milehighhockey.com)

    –NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs sat down with former defenseman Hal Gill to ask him five questions. They discussed how the game has changed, what it’s like to win the Stanley Cup and they also talked about P.K. Subban. (NHL.com)

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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    The Buzzer: Nikita Kucherov just keeps scoring goals

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    Player of the night. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

    The Tampa Bay Lightning have played six games this season. Forward Nikita Kucherov has scored a goal in all of them.

    He continued that goal scoring streak on Monday night in the Lightning’s 3-2 win in Detroit by scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winner to help lift them to their eighth consecutive win over the Detroit Red Wings.

    With that win the Lightning now have the best record in the NHL, while Kucherov’s seven goals are the second most in the league, trailing only Alex Ovechkin (nine).

    Kucherov has seen his production increase every year he has been in the NHL. He set a career-high with 40 goals a year ago and seems like he is on track to top that mark this season. Now playing in his age 24 season he should be right in the thick of his prime years in the NHL. When it comes to pure skill and offensive production there are only a handful of players in the league that can top what Kucherov is doing.

    Highlight of the Night.

    Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilievsky stopped 29 shots on Monday night but perhaps none were better than this pad save to rob Tomas Tatar right on the door step.

    Vasilevskiy had a slow start to the season but has been outstanding in his past two games, stopping 57 out of 60 shots in the Lightning’s wins over the St. Louis Blues and Red Wings.

    Factoid of the Night.

    Justin Abdelkader scored on a penalty shot for the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night becoming the first Red Wings player to do that in nearly 10 years.

    Ten years?! That seems like a heck of a long time between penalty shot goals for a team.

    Misc.

    Mike Green continued his incredible start to the season by scoring his first goal of the season for the Detroit Red Wings. He is now up to nine points in five games this season.

    Steven Stamkos picked up a pair of assists in the win for the Lightning, giving him eight on the season. Once he starts scoring goals (he only has one so far) he is going to be a force. His absence a year ago was a big reason why the Lightning fell just short of the postseason. With him back healthy they now have two of the top offensive players in the league (Nikita Kucherov).

    Scores

    Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Detroit Red Wings 2