Chicago Blackhawks center and captain Jonathan Toews on the ice during the October 31, 2011 Nashville Predators game at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 12, 2012 8:32AM
It’s a pick-your-poison situation for opponents. Do you send out your best defensive players against Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane or Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa?
The Blackhawks are lucky enough to have two “first” lines for opponents to contend, and coach Joel Quenneville has made it clear that he’ll keep the four split up — two and two — this season.
The numbers don’t lie. There simply isn’t a better foursome of forwards in the league right now than Toews, Hossa, Kane and Sharp. Through 29 games, they have amassed:
◆ 122 points, the most of any four forwards on any team entering Saturday, including 85 at even strength.
◆ 52 goals, including 12 on the power play, three short-handed and eight-game winners.
◆ 402 shots on goal.
◆ Combined plus-45 rating
Here’s what the Hawks’ “Fab Four” had to say about their success this season:
Marian Hossa: 12 goals, 29 points, plus-13, 104 shots.
“Personally, I’m more comfortable when I’m playing with someone for a period of time. But when you play with really great players, it doesn’t matter. You just might have to adjust your game a little bit because everybody is a different player and go from there. So far everything is clicking. All three are world-class players. They have proved it in the league for a while.”
Patrick Kane: eight goals, 31 points, plus-10, 96 shots.
“One of the things about the four guys is that we’ve been pretty much split up all year, two and two. It’s easier to spread it out, and you have more balance on the two lines. For us, we like producing. We want to be the guys who can do it every night. We know it’s not always going to happen, but hopefully one of the other four can fill in and step up. It seems like it’s been that for a while here, pretty much the whole season.”
Patrick Sharp: 15 goals, 30 points, plus-11, 105 shots.
“Joel does a good job of spreading it around. Usually I play with all three of those guys: Jon, Patrick and Hossa, and never two at the same time. It’s nice to have that partner. I think what makes it special on our team is that you can check one group and that’s going to free up another. A lot of teams have that checking line, and a lot of time Jonathan takes the bulk of that. That frees up another line to get some favorable matchups.
Jonathan Toews: 17 goals, 32 points, plus-11, 97 shots.
“It comes down to each guy wanting to go out there and produce and create something offensively every single night. We know one night it’s going to be one or the other or maybe all of us that are relied on to go out and do that. We know that that’s our role, to go out there and make things happen.”