BOSTON – Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is finding out what the Rangers’ Rick Nash and the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin learned earlier in these playoffs: The Bruins don’t give up much.
Toews not only has been smothered through three Stanley Cup Finals games but also has been snake-bitten through the playoffs, with just one goal and nine points in 19 games. Chicago trails Boston, 2-1, in the Stanley Cup Finals entering Game 3 on Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Bruins have won two straight and allowed just one Blackhawk goal in those 126 minutes and 12 seconds, including Monday’s 2-0 home shutout.
While the whole Chicago offense is struggling, the onus falls on Toews, the 2010 Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, to lead his team out of this hole.
“He’s still contributing in a lot of different areas,” Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp said of Toews. “I know he wants to score, but he takes a lot of draws, he plays well defensively. He plays heavy minutes for us. I’m not too concerned with Jonny.”
Toews did not speak to the media on Tuesday’s off-day in Boston. In fact, the Blackhawks made the bare minimum four players available, with their presence in front of the cameras reflecting their recent presence on the ice. Between the Blackhawks and Bruins on Tuesday, neither team’s captain spoke, nor did either starting goaltender.
Boston, however, has brought its A-game once the puck has been dropped.
Center Patrice Bergeron, last year’s winner of the Selke Trophy for top defensive forward, was beaten out for the award this season by Toews. But in Game 3, Bergeron turned in a performance that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called “one of those nights that you like to have in a career.”
Bergeron won of 24 of 28 faceoffs as Boston dominated at the dots (40-for-56, 71%). He scored the Bruins’ second goal, and his work off the puck led teammate Jaromir Jagr to say he’s never seen a “hungrier” player in the defensive zone.
“He won the Selke last year for a reason,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said.
Chicago hopes to receive a lift from the potential return of winger Marian Hossa, whom Quenneville said is “likely to play” after being a surprise Game 3 scratch due to an upper-body injury.
Toews had some chances, but he didn’t finish, like in the first period of Game 3 when he pushed a Duncan Keith pass wide of an open net at the post with the defense collapsing. Big Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg have shrunk the ice on Toews.
HOME ON THE RANGE
The Rangers are not expected to introduce Alain Vigneault as their head coach before Thursday. A press conference is expected in the upcoming days. Vigneault still is assembling his staff, which could include former Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who reportedly expressed interest in a job and resigned recently as head coach of Modo in Sweden’s Elite League.
The Flyers have agreed to terms on a four-year, $ 21 million contract with impending unrestricted free-agent defenseman Mark Streit.
Streit, 35, the former Islanders captain, was traded to Philly last Wednesday for minor-league forward Shane Harper and a fourth-round pick in 2014. The lefthanded blue liner has 65 goals and 288 points in 491 career regular-season games. The Islanders offered Streit a three-year deal worth about $ 5 million per season, according to Newsday, but the parties were apart on term and money in their negotiations.
Streit’s deal with the Flyers is for an extra year, worth $ 5.25 million per season, and also reportedly includes a limited no-trade clause.
The Islanders are expected to stitch the captain’s ‘C’ onto the sweater of center John Tavares, 22.