The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten next to nothing out of their bottom three lines thus far against the Los Angeles Kings and might very well be trailing 3-0 in the series if not for the play of Jonathan Toews.
Anze Kopitar, who was lighting the score sheet on fire in the first two rounds of the playoffs, has been neutralized by Toews at even strength; Kopitar has just one point in the three games, and it was a secondary assist on the power play. On the other side of things, Toews has three points (all goals) and has been the only Blackhawk generating consistent offense other than his linemate Marian Hossa.
It is a topic that is discussed to death, but Toews’ two-way game cannot be appreciated enough. His excellence in the defensive zone is a big reason why he is such a dominant possession player, and this has been on display against the Kings despite the 2-1 series deficit. The combination of he and Hossa is deadly, with both players being top three in terms of two-way play at their respective positions.
Joel Quenneville and the vastly underperforming bottom three forward lines have done just about everything possible to derail Chicago’s season this round against the Kings, but No. 19’s efforts have held them off. If Toews can get any semblance of help from the team’s depth and coaching staff, this series could swing back in Chicago’s favor very quickly.