Prior to Game 3 in Detroit, captain Jonathan Toews told reporters that despite going without a goal through the Blackhawks’ first seven playoff games, he wasn’t going to let it affect his play.
“Right now, I’m trying not to let it build up too much in my own mind,” he said. “Sometimes you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game kind of goes downhill and I’m not going to let that happen.”
In that game, a 3-1 Hawks loss, you can’t say Toews didn’t do his darndest to end the skid, finishing with a game-high 7 shots on goal — but the streak still grew to eight.
“If he keeps playing like that, it’ll find a way to get in,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
It’s not just Toews who is struggling. In their last two games, the Hawks have notched just 2 goals against the Red Wings. Quenneville has responded by shaking things up, moving Patrick Sharp to join Toews and Marian Hossa, while Brandon Saad dropped to the second line.
“They’re doing an extremely great job defensively,” Hossa said of Detroit’s defensive scheme. “They’re playing well in their zone and in the neutral zone. We have to find a way to get inside.
“I felt like we had some good chances and if they went in this would all be different, but we have to give them credit and we have to find a way to get inside.”
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who has stopped 96 of 101 shots in the series, including every 1 of Toews’ shots, says the Hawks’ captain doesn’t have to score to help his team be successful.
“He’s the heart and soul of that team and sort of sets the tone for them,” Howard said. “I think when it comes to him, just him going out there and working hard gives that team success. ... They’re such a deep team, they’ve got so many guys that can go out there and score for him. He’s one of those guys where you got to go out there and outwork him.”
Despite their captain being stymied on the scoresheet, Toews’ teammates feel that eventually he will bust out. But in the meantime, they’re appreciative for everything else he brings to the table.
“He does everything,” Bryan Bickell said. “He’s not trying not to score a goal. He’s definitely trying, but the bounces aren’t going his way. With the way he’s been working, though, the bounces will go his way. He’s been doing it all year.
“He’s our backbone. He gets everybody fired up with his work ethic. Hopefully they start going in here.”
Rookie Saad, also without a goal in the postseason, absolutely feels Toews’ pain.
“I’m sure he’s put more pressure then anyone on himself but he plays both ends of the ice,” Saad said. “He’s playing well defensively, not getting scored on. He’s a good faceoff guy. He does all the little things. The goals are going to come.
“Obviously you want your top guys to produce, but in the playoffs you’ve got to have depth, you’ve got to have all the lines chipping in a little bit. I don’t think it’s really a big deal that he hasn’t scored. We’ve still had success.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.