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Blackhawks’ No. 1 line not playing like it

Chicago Blackhawks v MinnesotWild - Game Three

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Three

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Updated: May 6, 2013 11:54AM



ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Blackhawks have way too much depth for their No. 1 line to be an issue this early in the playoffs. But while it’s too soon to panic, it’s never too early to fret and wonder.

After a 3-2 overtime loss Sunday to the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the dearth of production from the top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad became a topic. As a threesome, that line has combined for zero points in three games. Hossa scored on a power play in Game 1 and assisted on a goal Sunday by Johnny Oduya with Patrick Kane in for Saad.

Toews pointed to an old postseason bugaboo: too much finesse and not enough grind.

‘‘We’ve got to shoot the puck more; it comes down to that,’’ Toews said in a sparse Blackhawks locker room. ‘‘We’re not getting pucks to the net. We’re passing up chances and trying to make too many plays.’’

The Wild blocked 12 of the Hawks’ 39 shot attempts in Game 3 after blocking 21 of 58 in Game 1 and 21 of 69 in Game 2.

‘‘They’ve got good sticks; there’s a lot of obstruction out there,’’ Toews said. ‘‘You can’t try to make pretty plays. It’s got to be ugly. And we’re not doing that enough.Once we start doing that, we’ve got the strength, the speed, the skill to get on the board and make things happen and take it out of their hands instead of letting them be the guys that shut us down. It’s more up to us than anything.’’

After the Hawks fell
behind 2-1 in the third peri-
od, coach Joel Quenneville started mixing and matching his top lines and struck gold when Kane and Patrick Sharp, playing with Andrew Shaw, assisted on the tying goal by Duncan Keith with 2:46 left in regulation.

But Quenneville didn’t think it was a No. 1-line issue.

‘‘Nah, you’ve got to look across the board,’’ he said. ‘‘We didn’t produce the way we’d like to, whether it was offensive-zone time or shots on net. I think we’ve got to get greasy goals if we want to be successful. We’re running too much on the outside. We’ve got to get more determined in that rough area at the front of the net.’’



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