NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Coach Joel Quenneville was asked about seeing more out of Jonathan Toews this postseason. Same with Patrick Kane. In each instance, the response was pretty much the same: The Blackhawks needed more out of everyone, not just those two.
"We look across the board," he said. "We always find that when we're in some tough spots our top guys always find a way to lead the charge and find a way to overcome all obstacles. And we're going to need (Toews and Kane), but we're going to need everybody else too. It's a tough challenge. You can't just rely on one guy to get it done."
Well, that's true to a point. The Blackhawks certainly need more across the board in a series that has been very lopsided in the Nashville Predators' favor. But if they want to continue past tomorrow, let alone pull off the comeback to get to the second round, they really need their top players to get going.
The Blackhawks are on the brink of elimination when they face the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of their first-round series on Thursday night. It's been an all-too quiet series overall for the Blackhawks, whose two second-period goals in Game 3 are their only ones of the first three games. The silence from their top players has been at the forefront of that.
Kane's goal on Monday was only his second in his last 10 playoff games. Toews has gone goal-less in the postseason since Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup final (12 games).
"That's something I'm obviously well aware of and no better moment than a game like (Game 4). I've waited long enough," Toews said of his goal drought. "You've got to go out there feeling lucky like you're going to work for that bounce. I'm just trying to stay patient and smart and do the right things. Obviously no more waiting. [Thursday] is a big game and a great time for it to come through and make a big play, and contribute…"
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With two goals in three games, clearly Toews and Kane aren't the only ones who are too quiet on the scoresheet. But Toews and Kane have been the offensive backbone of this team for many postseasons now. They've come up with the clutch games and goals over and over again.
"You need your best players this time of year to step up and be your best players. Throughout the playoffs, as time goes on, you kind of see some depth guys step up and have big games," Kane said. "but at times like this, I think it's the top guys who probably need to lead the charge."
The Blackhawks look to their top players for leadership, be it their words or their play. The latter is especially needed now. And the faster they get going the more there's a ripple effect throughout the lineup, with confidence and offense.
The last time the Blackhawks were swept in a postseason series most of the players on their current roster were kids (1993 division semifinals against St. Louis). They still believe they can come back in this series. To do that they'll need contributions from everybody but they'll really need it from the guys who have done it so often in the past.
"We know what we have to do. It just comes down to what we haven't accomplished yet," Toews said. "We're getting closer and closer to getting that win. So [Thursday] we've just got to go out there and find a way to win that game."