Blackhawks struggle to contain ‘That 70’s Line’ of Carter, Toffoli, Pearson


Going into the 2014 Western Conference finals, it seemed like the Chicago Blackhawks would have to be most concerned with the Los Angeles Kings’ top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik. Instead, they’ve been baffled by the less familiar combination of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

Considering their numbers (Pearson is No. 70, Toffoli is No. 73 and Carter is No. 77), The Royal Half coined the nickname “That 70’s Line.” Whatever you want to call them,* takes a look at how difficult they’ve been to stop lately.

“They both have a lot of speed, they’re skilled players. Pearson’s got speed as well,” Duncan Keith said. “They skate hard, they play hard and they both have good shots. Put all those three together, they’re going to be hard to play against.”

The numbers certainly back that up.

Carter has been the most explosive of the bunch. The 29-year-old has seven points in his last two games, a five-game point streak (five goals, five assists) and 19 total points in this postseason. Three of his points came in Saturday’s 4-3 win in Game 3, including this goal:

Toffoli, 22 and Pearson, 21, have four-game point streaks of their own. Pearson has a goal and four assists in this span while Toffoli found the net three times and added one assist in four contests. Toffoli’s goal from Saturday ranks among his best of what seems like a breakthrough run:

Jonathan Toews has been able to hold up his end of the bargain when he’s been facing Kopitar & Co., but the Blackhawks badly need the likes of Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp to step up or they’ll end up being grumpier than Red Forman by the end of this series.

* – It will be tough to top “That 70’s Line.”