The Chicago Blackhawks have been playing without top winger Patrick Kane. He went down March 19 against the St. Louis Blues and is working to get back for postseason play.
Also, top center Jonathan Toews suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday’s game against at Pittsburgh. He took a big hit from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and left the ice holding his arm.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Toews suffered a minor upper-body injury and is considered “day-to-day” at this point.
“We'll get a better assessment tomorrow,” Quenneville told reporters after the game. “This time of the year we want to make sure he gets better and fresh; whether he gets a break or not we’ll see.”
In his Kane’s absence, the Blackhawks lost three of their first five games. Opponents outscored them 11-5 in five-on-five scenarios. Chicago suffered two shutouts in that span.
Prior to that, ESPN Chicago notes, the Blackhawks outscored their opponents 20-13 in 5-on-5 situations during the first 10 games since the Olympic break.
Kane is just that important to the Blackhawks. He is one of those rare forwards who can make everybody playing with him better.
Toews’ absence would only compound those issues. “Whenever you lose players, someone has to step up and take the spot,” forward Patrick Sharp told reporters. “In the case of those two guys, it’s tough to replace them.”