DETROIT – Jonathan Toews always expects himself to be at his best, but throw the Blackhawks captain into a scoring drought that has lasted seven playoff games and the pressure to get the offense going only grows.
But as anxious as Toews is to finally register his first playoff goal, he won’t stress too much over when it will happen.
“It’s one of those things I have to keep working, keep trying to find ways to score and eventually, it’s going to come,” Toews said after Monday’s morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “Right now, I’m trying not to let it build up too much in my own mind. Sometimes, you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game kind of goes downhill and I’m not going to let that happen.
“Sooner or later, something’s got to give.”
Toews, who was announced as a finalist for the NHL’s Messier Leadership Award on Monday, shared the team lead (23) for goals in the regular season with Patrick Kane. Kane, who like Toews did not score in the Hawks’ first-round series against Minnesota, finally scored in the Hawks’ 4-1 Game 2 loss Saturday, when the Red Wings overwhelmed the Hawks in nearly every phase of the game.
Toews said Monday that Detroit left winger Henrik Zetterberg had a lot to do not only with keeping Toews out of scoring chances, but the Hawks’ entire top line. Toews said he became frustrated by not being able to do much in Game 2 and suggested that “maybe it’s time to return the favor.”
Stalberg returns: Winger Viktor Stalberg returned to the lineup Monday night after being a healthy scratch for the first two games of the series. Coach Joel Quenneville put Stalberg on his third line along with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw, giving Stalberg the chance to provide some energy after telling the Swede that he needed more urgency from him.
The challenge, he said, comes in trying not to overdo it after sitting for a couple of games.
“You may be a little too excited at times, but you just have to keep it simple and play hard,” Stalberg said Monday. “I’ll try to stay the same – obviously, you’re excited to get back in, you always want to play – it’s as simple as that, no question about it. I may be a little hungrier, but I don’t think it should make too much of a difference.”
Stalberg’s return didn’t last long, though.
Stalberg was taken to the Hawks’ dressing room after his first shift after being sent into the boards head-first. He returned to the bench later in the first period.
Control Game: The Hawks put more hits on the Red Wings in Game 2, but were outshot 30-20. Kane said Joe Louis Arena’s prime ice conditions can be an advantage for the Hawks’ speed, but admitted they can’t give up on playing with an aggressiveness is a regular routine for playoff hockey.
“We’ve seen it before, where teams have outhit us and people are saying we need to be physical, but then we’ve got the puck most of the game ... so it’s a bit of Catch 22 – you want to play physical but at the same time, you want the puck, too.”