Blackhawks have been Olympic zeros when it comes to scoring
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff reporter February 16, 2014 9:21PM
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Updated: February 17, 2014 2:02PM
SOCHI, Russia — Jonathan Toews corralled the puck off the end boards, tripped over the corner of the net and still managed to whip the puck around with a diving, two-handed flick from behind the goal. The puck slipped through the crease, where Finland goaltender Tuukka Rask flopped on it just before it crossed the goal line.
That’s as close as the Blackhawks have come to a goal in these Olympics.
Through 28 man-games — Patrick Sharp and Michal Rozsival have been healthy scratches once — the 10 Hawks in Sochi have a combined zero goals and six assists. For comparison’s sake, American winger Phil Kessel, the tournament’s leading scorer, has four goals and three assists, counting his hat trick in the 5-1 rout Sunday of Slovenia.
It’s not for a lack of chances. Patrick Kane (who has three of the Hawks’ six assists) had a breakaway in overtime Saturday against Russia and created a few good scoring opportunities against Slovenia. Toews (one assist) has been very noticeable at both ends of the ice, but his wraparound attempt was emblematic of his puck luck in Sochi.
Sharp played less than 10 minutes in Canada’s 2-1 overtime victory Sunday over Finland but was involved in two good chances — including a waved-off goal when Rick Nash used a high stick to knock the puck off the top of the net and in.
“It’s not frustrating, but you want to make it count every single game,” said Toews, who said he was pleased with his play. “We’re only going to play a handful of games at this level, at this tournament. So the time is now. Just got to have fun with it, and eventually it’ll go in.”
Sharp, who so badly wanted to make Team Canada and earned his spot with a brilliant first half of the NHL season, doesn’t appear to be having too much fun. A healthy scratch in Canada’s second game, he played only 9:47 against Finland, rotating in on the fourth line. When he was on the ice, Sharp had good chemistry with John Tavares — a Hart Trophy finalist last season who’s centering the fourth line for the impossibly deep Canadian squad. But Sharp’s not getting much of a chance, despite appearing poised to play a major role on the second line and the power play when the Olympics began.
“It’s the problem of being on a good team,” Sharp said tersely, “so we’ll see what happens.”
Kane, meanwhile, wasn’t thrilled with his play in the easy win over upstart Slovenia, saying he “wasn’t as smart as I thought I could be.” A day off the ice Monday should help remedy any fatigue he has from playing three games in four days and doing endless media appearances as the face of U.S. hockey.
Kane’s not concerned, nor are his teammates.
“That’s the way it goes,” Kane’s linemate Zach Parise said. “It’s a funny game like that, then all of a sudden you get an empty-net tap-in. I don’t think anyone has to worry too much about Patrick Kane.”