At the start of the Stanley Cup Finals, no hockey enthusiast would have predicted that the Blackhawks would have more wins in the series than Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews would have points. That is the case going into Wednesday night’s Game 3 at the Wachovia Center.
The Blackhawks held serve at home as expected, but Toews and Kance have not been a vital part of their success so far in the final. It has been the stellar play of their goalie Antti Niemi that kept the Flyers from tying the series at one game a piece.
“It’s not always the top line that gets it done as far as goal scoring,” Blackhawk coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. “By committee, by team, there’s a lot of different areas. Defense can even complement scoring as well.”
The atmosphere will be a hostile one in Philadelphia, and if the two players leading in points for the Blackhawks decide to show up the team will surely benefit. The two players have played big roles in the resurrection of the Blackhawks from laughing stock to Stanley Cup.
Toews had 26 goals during the season, and racked up 68 points during the regular season. Kane had been the top player for the Blackhawks during the regular season, scoring 30 goals and collecting 88 points.
Taking the day off from the media Tuesday might help their goalless drought. Kane hasn’t shown up on the score sheet for six straight games. Toews has had a similar dry spell, not scoring in four. Just because they have been absent from the scoring chart does not mean they have not helped their team to victory.
“They do so much more for us than put pucks in the net,” Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said. “It doesn’t concern us. We’ve said all playoffs long, we don’t care who scores the goals as long as we get the wins. We have four lines that can contribute offensively and that’s why we’re here.”
The Flyers are frustrated that they have succeeded in stopping Chicago’s two most dangerous players, yet failed to produce a win. Their defense broke down for long enough to allow Marian Hossa and Ben Eager to score 28 seconds apart.
“We’ve done a good job against their top line, but we need to eliminate those other lines as well,” said Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger. “They’ve gotten a couple of good bounces to go their way on some of their goals. I don’t think we really need change to much.”
NHL Sportsbooks have set the Flyers as 1 1/2 point favorites over the Blackhawks in Game 3. The over/under for total goals scored in the game has been set at 5 1/2.