CHICAGO — A truly glaring statistic for Chicago is the one playoff goal scored by captain Jonathan Toews. But he still carries a lot of respect for his overall game, which was rewarded Friday with the Frank J. Selke Award for being the NHL’s top defensive forward.
Toews beat out fellow finalists Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins (last season’s winner) and the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk.
As for his offense, his postseason struggles are surprising. This is the same Toews who tied for the team lead with 23 goals (plus 25 assists) in the regular season and had seven playoff goals when Chicago won the 2010 Stanley Cup.
After practice Friday, Toews acknowledged the scoring drought was irritating following an ugly loss against Detroit in the second round as Chicago fell behind, 3-1, in that series.
“That was the most frustrated I’ve felt,” he said. “Whenever you are down in a series and things aren’t looking so good, that is when you are going to feel it the most.”
However, Chicago has rebounded, winning eight of nine including Wednesday’s Stanley Cup Final opener against the Bruins, and Toews is now more relaxed about the situation. He wants to help, but more important is team performance.
“For a lot of guys it could be discouraging when it doesn’t go your way, but for myself I just try and stay with it and not dwell on that too much and be positive going into every game,” Toews said. “We’ll keep going with that attitude.”
No straight lines
Besides Toews, Marian Hossa, and Brandon Saad in one combination Friday, coach Joel Quenneville lined up center Michal Handzus to go with wingers Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp on the second line, Dave Bolland between Bryan Bickell and Game 1 hero Andrew Shaw on the third, and Marcus Kruger with Michael Frolik and Brandon Bollig. Quenneville is likely to shake up the lines in Saturday’s game.
“Sometimes it’s the matchup, sometimes it’s mixing it up,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes we try things. We usually try them when we don’t like the way things are going.”
The Blackhawks are aware they will have to do a better job stopping the Bruins’ top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton, who accounted for all three scores Wednesday.
“We have to move our feet a little better,” Toews said. “We weren’t getting to pucks, especially on the first goal by Lucic.”
Now that the Blackhawks have played the Bruins for the first time since 2011, what stuck out? “They are different than the Western [Conference] teams,” Frolik said. “They play with the puck and they have good patience and they do not want to dump the puck that much. The Western teams are more simple.” . . . Forward Viktor Stalberg seems likely to be on the bench again for Game 2.