Toews has been blanketed by Henrik Zetterberg basically every time he has stepped on the ice since Game 2. He committed three consecutive penalties in the second period on Thursday against the Wings. Jakub Kindl took advantage of the second and handed the Blackhawks their first power play goal against of the playoffs.
Toews can’t be spending time in the penalty box if he hopes to help his team climb out of the 3-1 hole they have dug for themselves. He is a leader on the penalty kill, and his absence on the penalty kill unit is much more significant than, say, Andrew Shaw‘s.
The Hawks aren’t going to be able to avoid the Zetterberg treatment. When they tried to force the Red Wings’ hand by putting Toews on the second line, the Wings quickly countered by adjusting their matchups and marching Hank out there whenever Toews played.
The Wings are forcing the Blackhawks to play their game. Chicago suffered their first shutout of the entire season in Game 4 simply because they weren’t focused on playing their own game. They were worried about how to counter what the Red Wings were doing. Their offense suffered immensely because of it and outside of hitting iron on a few occasions, they didn’t pose the constant threat like they did throughout the regular season.
Toews can expect Zetterberg to be matched up against him again in Game 5. If he doesn’t play through the physicality, the Blackhawks will struggle to get anything going yet again.