BOSTON (Reuters) - Jonathan Toews’s scoring touch has disappeared, Marian Hossa is out with injury and the Chicago Blackhawks powerplay has short-circuited.
Top-seeded Chicago want all three clicking for Wednesday’s Game Four of a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final that the Boston Bruins lead 2-1.
Some of Chicago’s scoring woes in Monday’s 2-0 road loss can be attributed to Hossa’s absence as he was ruled out with an unspecified injury just prior to the opening faceoff.
Hossa, tied with for the team lead in playoff scoring with 15 points, is expected to play in Game Four but it is far less certain whether the team’s powerplay and Toews will make their long-awaited return.
Chicago went 0-for-5 on the power play in Game Three and has not scored a man-advantage goal in the last 20 chances dating back to Game Two of the Western Conference Final.
The frustration has been magnified by a suffocating Boston team that has killed off 27 consecutive penalties, including all 11 Chicago opportunities in the first three games of the Final.
”They box you out. They got big bodies. They blocked shots,“ said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. ”I think we had some chances to get some pucks through the net, we didn‘t.
“We got to find a way to win here tomorrow night. I think we’re in a tough spot. Tomorrow is a very important game, like we have to win tomorrow night. Come up with a good result, we’re right where we want to be.”
One of the biggest surprises has been the lack of offensive contribution from Toews during the playoffs.
Four years ago when Chicago won their last Stanley Cup Toews had seven goals and 29 points in 22 playoff games and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player.
This year, Toews, who tied for the team lead in goal scoring during the regular season with 23, has been mired in a terrible post-season slump counting just one goal.
”Whether it’s him or our power play, offensively I think we’re all a little gun shy in that area,“ Quenneville told reporters. ”We want to make sure there’s some composure there, get a spark on our power play, go five-on-five.
”One thing with Johnny, you can always measure how he’s going to be competing because game in, game out he leaves it out there.
“Offensively maybe he’s pressing in that area. Certainly it would be nice to get some production and finish to show for it.”
In an attempt to spark some production Quenneville said he is considering reuniting Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line as he did briefly with some success against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final.
Throughout the playoffs Quenneville has preferred to go with two balanced lines rather than load up one unit and stayed with that game plan against Boston partly in an effort to keep Kane and Toews away from Boston’s hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara.
”They had a couple looks together,“ said Quenneville. ”It’s something that is available but that’s on a need basis,“ said Quenneville. ”That’s something you can always go to.
“We’ll see how we go along here, what the lines will be.”
Editing by Frank Pingue