CHICAGO -- It’s not Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville’s style to call out players individually, but he came close enough when asked about his team’s play in a 3-2 overtime loss on Thursday.
“There are certain guys that have to pick up their game,” he said after the defeat, which put Chicago in a 3-1 hole in its first-round series with the Coyotes.
It's hard to imagine those guys being any of the Hawks’ role players. A successful playoff team needs secondary scoring, the Hawks have gotten it from the most unlikely players on their roster.
Quenneville benched Jamal Mayers Thursday in favor of Brendan Morrison, and he tallied on a laser of a shot that deflected past goalie Mike Smith for the Hawks’ first goal. Then it was often-scratched forward Michael Frolik scoring late to tie the game. It was his second goal in as many playoff starts filling in for the suspended Andrew Shaw. Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig had big goals in the Hawks' lone win of the series.
But where are Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg? That foursome has combined for two goals in the first four games of the series. And Brent Seabrook had his worst game of the series in Game 4 after playing stellar hockey for so long.
“Five on five whether it’s more zone time, we’re looking to beat guys and look for a better play,” Quenneville said. “We have more success when we just put it on the net as opposed to one more play.”
Toews, Kane and the normally shoot-first Sharp combined for six shots total. Stalberg had four but if anyone defined the tepid play of the stars it was him. On one shift, he started from his own end with the puck three different times only to get his pocket picked and have to circle back before a counter attack occurred.
“We had our opportunities to score, we had our opportunities to take advantage, whether it was on the power-play or whatever,” Toews said. “We didn’t work hard enough for that offense, and to try and go ahead in the game.”
The bottom line is getting goals from Bickell, Frolik and Morrison is nice, but it’s nothing to count on.
That’s what the Hawks' stars are there for. And now they may only have one game left to do it.
“For 40 minutes I didn’t mind the way we played,” Quenneville said. “Certain guys I think need to be better in our team game.”
Names aren’t needed.