The Blackhawks have had a scoring resurgence lately as parts of their team that weren’t producing before, such as the power www.e666e.com/phil-esposito-jersey-c-1_15.html play and center Artem Anisimov, are now.
But as the Hawks saw their scoring increase along with winning three of their last four games heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Lightning, it was without production from the top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.
The three aren’t letting their drought get in the way of their goal, which is ultimately to score goals.
“The numbers aren’t there yet, but we know what the potential is and the three of us are working to build that chemistry,” Toews said. “We know in the end we need to be more offensive and more productive if we want to keep winning.”
Entering Wednesday, Toews had just one goal in his last seven games — an empty-netter against the Rangers.
Panik hasn’t scored in his last 11 games, while Saad had just one goal in his last 14 — an overtime 3-on-3 goal against the Hurricanes.
“The last few games we have had some more chances, some better looks, finding each other,” Saad said. “We’re happy with the last few, and the pucks will go in for us. We just have to stay positive.”
But it’s not as if the top line has been useless lately. It still is commanding the opposition’s top defensive assignments, and coach Joel Quenneville often deploys it against the opponent’s top scoring line.
“It’s very cliche, but make top-lines play in their own end — it’s the best way to defend them,” Toews said. “We want to do that. It’s more of an energy boost when you play with the puck as well. The three of us are well aware of top lines we’ve been up against. We take pride in not giving up much.”
Quenneville hasn’t minded the way they have attacked the offensive zone recently.
“That line, whether they’re taking the puck to the net themselves or it’s somebody else, that line can get through people pretty well individually,” Quenneville said. “Every single night there are three or four chances where they’re around it.”
For instance, on Saturday against the Penguins, Quenneville matched up the line with Sidney Crosby’s unit. In that game, the Toews line more than held its own. The Hawks had eight more shot attempts 5-on-5 when Toews and Saad were on the ice than the Penguins had. It was plus-7 for Panik. A performance like that just underscores the line’s need to be patient.
“The focus is definitely just playing with www.eraneta.com/luca-sbisa-c-1_40.html the puck and finding each other in time and space,” Toews said. “And being tough to check, not giving up pucks in those battle areas. Once we do get shots, find ways to get the puck back, get away from pressure, keep it alive and keep creating more. Eventually the more you’re creating, the more pucks are going to go in.”
At least that’s the idea.
Kempny out sick: Defenseman Michal Kempny left Wednesday morning’s skate because of an illness, Quenneville said. Kempny, who was a healthy scratch the last two games, was unlikely to dress for Wednesday’s game anyway, Quenneville said.