Even though times are tough in Chicago — the ‘Hawks have lost four in a row, dropped to fifth in the West and are without injured forwards Patrick Sharp, Dan Carcillo and Marcus Kruger — captain Jonathan Toews insists there’s no reason for panic.
“We’re not in panic mode by any means,” Toews told the Daily Herald. “We’re not worrying about it. All the good teams go through stretches like this.”
The ‘Hawks will be heavily favored tonight against last-place Columbus at the United Center, but the game will still be a test as it’s Chicago’s first full game without Sharp in the lineup. He’s out 3-4 weeks with a suspected wrist injury and Chicago needs someone to replace his production (Sharp has 20 goals and 40 points through the midway point of the season.)
So who steps up? Patrick Kane’s offense has gone south with just three goals in his last 23 games and the forwards normally leaned upon for secondary scoring — Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell — are struggling as well. Frolik’s scoreless in 11 games, Bickell in seven (he has just one tally in his last 25 contests) and Stalberg in six. Bolland has one goal in his last 10 games, but that’s partly due to him being responsible for checking duties as a third-line center.
That said, Chicago is not exactly lacking offensive weapons. Toews and Marian Hossa are scoring at a point-a-game clip and the ‘Hawks rank sixth in the NHL in goals per game. Head coach Joel Quenneville knows it, which is why he’s more focused on maintaining leads rather than getting them.
“We’re in a stretch right now where we have to find a way to manufacture points, get to the end with the lead,” Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “You’re going to have stretches where there are bumps along the road and rectifying them is the challenge. Both teams will be desperate tonight. We want to make sure we’re going to be the hardest working team out there tonight.”