The Chicago Blackhawks will be without the dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the remainder of the regular season after announcing Toews would be shut down on Wednesday.
“We’re going to be smart and make sure he’ll be 100 percent for the playoffs,” head coach Joel Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “We want him rested, ready to play.”
Toews suffered an apparent arm injury on a Brooks Orpik hit during Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh and won’t play the final six games of the year. Kane, who’s been out of action since Mar. 19, was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago with the understanding he’d miss the rest of the regular season as well.
At first glance, it appears the ‘Hawks are simply being cautious with their two stars.
Both Kane and Toews are expected to be healthy and ready to return when the playoffs begin and, while Hockey Cliches 101 says all 82 games are very important, the reality is Chicago has little to play for down the stretch.
The ‘Hawks are on a collision course with Colorado for the opening round, as both are locked into the second and third sports in the Central Division. The only thing really left up for grabs is home-ice advantage, but Colorado has an edge given it’s three points up on Chicago (102 to 99) with a game in hand.
What’s more, the Avs hold a sizable edge in regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker, with 44 to Chicago’s 37.
The ‘Hawks can use these injuries to their advantage, as well.
Shutting down Kane and Toews gives Chicago the chance to 1) rest its two star players, who’ve played a lot of hockey over the last 12 months; 2) give guys like Andrew Shaw bigger roles and more minutes; and 3) get longer looks at some guys from AHL Rockford, like Joakim Nordstrom and Jeremy Morin.