Chicago — While the Detroit Red Wings seem to have found combinations that work, the Chicago Blackhawks are going back to a once-successful combination out of desperation.
After scoring just two goals in the last three games, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is putting Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp together on the top line.
“It’s exciting,” Kane said of playing with Toews. “We played a couple of years ago together a lot and we were hot, scoring a lot of goals. You want to think about scoring chances and creating things.”
The Wings say they’ll be ready for whatever the Blackhawks throw at them in Game 5.
“We got (Pavel) Datsyuk on one unit and (Henrik) Zetterberg on another and I assume assume Toews has to play against one of them and I assume (Michal) Handzus has to play against another,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the morning skate.
If that’s the way the Blackhawks go, that means Handzus will center Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa.
“I think if you mention those two on the second line they have two pretty good players there too, so you kind of pick your poison there,” Zetterberg said. “They’re such a deep team. They can put guys together on the first line and still have great guys on the second line, so for us we just try to focus on playing good defense and not focus so much on who you’re playing against.”
Although the Wings are up 3-1 in the series and the Blackhawks would need to win three in a row to move on, Babcock wasn’t acting like his team had that much of an advantage.
“I don’t know how they can be any more desperate or any more scared than we are,” Babcock said. “A little fear is a wonderful thing to help you prepare to do your job in life. Reality of the situation is we know we got a real good team we’re playing against. They’re very talented. We can’t give them any room.”
The Wings have a lot of young players who haven’t been in this situation before. They were down in the Anaheim series but now they’re up on the Blackhawks heading into a possible elimination game.
“We’ve shown that we can beat this team, obviously, we’re up 3-1,” Gustav Nyquist said. “The fourth one is always the hardest to get so we know they’re going to come out hard, it’s their home ice. But it’s a big game for us. We want to win the fourth game as soon as possible, obviously, and it starts tonight. We know what to do to be successful against this team and we’re just going to have to keep doing those things.”