The Chicago Blackhawks’ response, or lack thereof, for Brooks Orpik’s hit on Jonathan Toews on Sunday night has drawn plenty of, well, response. But for the Blackhawks at that time, with so much riding on that game, retribution was a dicey issue.
Toews is listed as day-to-day with the upper-body injury he sustained on that Orpik hit, but the Blackhawks will shut their captain down for the rest of the regular season to ensure he’s fresh and ready for the postseason. The Blackhawks will tinker with their lineup, obviously, especially up the middle, as they try to finish the regular season on as good a note as possible.
Now, back to Sunday night, the Toews hit and the Blackhawks’ response. When Toews left, the Blackhawks were still in the game and said they were focused on getting the two points. But from coach Joel Quenneville to several players, the thought was the same: “retaliation” is good in theory, but tougher in practice.
“I didn’t like the hit. At that time, what could you have done differently? There’s probably no great option with a 2-1 hockey game,” Quenneville said following Wednesday’s practice. “Getting even, how it was addressed is something you could talk about. The options weren’t great; it was a tricky one. The force of the hit and who it was (on) and how meaningful he is to our team, we’re all disappointed. You don’t want to see that type of hit anyway. But we’ll work our way through it and be all right.”
Brandon Bollig was certainly thinking of fighting at the time. Two years ago, when Raffi Torres hit Marian Hossa with a flying elbow to the head, Bollig was the first guy to grab Torres. But on Sunday, Bollig said the players and the coaches “all had the same attitude.”
“We wanted to up our physical game and we did,” he said. “But as far as directly addressing that in a fight, I don’t think there was a right time for it.
“Obviously the game’s changed, and I’ve talked to coaches about how they feel,” Bollig continued. “It was a 2-1 game and we desperately needed those two points. At the time, down a goal and taking a pounding is not what we want to do. It would’ve been nice for something to happen but I don’t think there was a right time for it. But there’s always a future.”
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As far as there not being the right time for a potential fight, fine. But it didn’t necessarily have to be a fight. A big, clean hit on an opponent can certainly resonate with your foe and perhaps spark your team. Bottom line is, the Blackhawks are facing their final six regular-season games without their captain. That certainly needs to draw a response — in their game the rest of the way.
“Johnny’s going to be fine,” Bollig said. “It was a clean hit. Obviously it’s unfortunate for us (losing Toews); he’s one of the best players in the world. It’s tough to have him out of the lineup one game, let alone a couple if that ends up being the case. It’s not ideal but that was a game we needed to have and our focus is two points. If you stray away from that, bad things tend to happen. Down the road is a different story, but I don’t think it was the right time to address it in any other way than we did.”