The combination was a surprise to see, mainly because coach Joel Quenneville didn’t throw it out there in Monday morning’s line rushes. When Game 3 began, however, there they were: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, once again, were line mates.
It’s a move we’ve seen in postseasons past, specifically when the Blackhawks need a jump-start to their offense or their overall game. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the Blackhawks, down 0-2 entering Monday night’s victory, do it again.
Toews and Kane were top-line partners again, teamed with Bryan Bickell in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. Quenneville said the trio would also likely be together on Wednesday, when the Blackhawks host the Blues in Game 4. The move didn’t entirely bolster the scoring. Toews scored his first of the postseason about five minutes into the game, but it was an otherwise quiet night for the forwards again. Still, the pairing usually has its desired effect eventually.
“In playoffs last year they put us together and we had some success at the end, too, so maybe that’s the thought process there,” Kane said at Monday’s availability. “I think when you’re playing with a guy like Johnny it’s almost like you’re not really worried too much about who you’re playing against or who you’re out there against on the other team because he makes things a lot easier for you. We’ve had some success in the past. Hopefully we can get going here a little bit more. I thought we played pretty good last night, but we want to finish our chances and maybe create some more along the way here too. It was a good start.”
“As you go through a series you look for things that might possibly work,” he said. “I thought that line was effective last night. They didn’t get the production together with some of the chances that looked like they could have had the finish. (But) there’s a lot of ability there. We thought last year in the playoffs when they did get together, whether they started a series or a middle of a series, that they seemed to get excited about it. I know (Toews) would like to play with Kaner, and we like that balance that it presents when they’re apart. Sometimes in a course of a series you try it. I thought last night it was OK.”
Kane, who missed the final month of the regular season with a knee injury, played the first two games of this series on the third line. It was probably more of a protective measure — Bickell was on the line with him — with Kane’s recent injury and the Blues’ penchant for hitting star players. Kane, who’s worn a knee brace, said Monday that he feels good and his mobility is also fine. He’d obviously like to bolster his scoring; he has just one goal, a breakaway in Game 1.
We all know the potential with that top line. Bickell provides the protection and physical side, which continues to be more visible with each passing game (he had eight hits on Monday). Toews and Kane provide the fireworks. Sure, they didn’t produce in their initial reunion, but the potential of them doing so increases with each game.
“There’s just lots of confidence there, and we know what to expect,” Toews said. “Every shift we go out there we can get that puck possession and create stuff; and the more we create, eventually it’s going to go in.”