Jonathan Toews is not giving up without a fight.
Will the rest of the Blackhawks follow their leader?
Right down to the bitter end, it's Toews searching for ways to motivate his teammates through a situation that is about as close to impossible as it gets.
The Hawks trail the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in their best-of-seven first round playoff series that could come to an end tonight at the United Center.
Following Sunday's loss in Game 3, Toews said the Hawks had yet to expose the Canucks for what they really are. He hammered away at the subject again on Monday.
"They're a beatable team," Toews said. "We haven't done that in three games. We haven't been able to prove that we can be a better team than them on one single night and it's frustrating and disappointing. We have one more chance to do that. I don't know what more motivation we need."
If the Hawks aren't motivated to play their most physical game of the series in the aftermath of Raffi Torres' head shot on Brent Seabrook in Game 3, then there's a bigger problem that we thought.
The NHL did not suspend Torres on Monday, citing players are fair game -- heads and all -- in plays behind the net, which is where Torres creamed Seabrook.
The Canucks have pounded the Hawks' best players for three games in a vicious display of legal hitting, especially targeting defensemen Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brian Campbell.
"I don't know if we're being targeted," Keith said. "Obviously certain players have the puck more and are on the ice more so you might see them get hit more."
Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Canucks are on the ice a lot and have the puck more, but so far the Hawks have given them, Alex Burrows and the Vancouver defense a free pass when it comes to punishing hitting.
Bumping is more of what the Hawks have done to the Canucks.
"Certainly when you get into that and target guys you put them on the power play, and they have a very good power play," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You've got to be disciplined with a purpose, but I still think we can be more engaged physically in this series and against those guys (the Sedins)."
Nobody in the Hawks' dressing room Monday was talking directly about going after the Sedins or Torres -- if Canucks coach Alain Vigneault even plays the reckless winger.
"We have to get even in more ways than one," Toews said.
Said Keith: "We're going to use (the hit on Seabrook) as motivation, but there was no talk in here about how we have to get back at Torres. We've got to win. Our season is on the line."
Seabrook took the high road Monday, saying the Hawksw couldn't afford to run around and look for retribution against Torres in Game 4.
"That can't be our focus right now," Seabrook said. "Our focus is to win the game and take it back to Vancouver and try and win the series. That's the best way we could get back at him."
History is not on the Hawks' side. Only three teams in NHL history have rallied to win a series after being down 3-0, although it did happen last season when Philadelphia did it to Boston.
"I'm sure they weren't worried about winning four games in a row as they went into that Game 4," Toews said. "We can't be thinking about that either. We have (today) and that's all we have right now."
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