Monday: Blackhawks coach Q and Toews pre-game comments

Prior to Game 4 of the 2014 Western Conference Final in Los Angeles, Chicago Blackhaws center Jonathan Toews and coach Joel Quenneville had this to say…

Q.  Jonathan, how do you look at it, the fact you’ve made it this far without some of your top guns not scoring many goals?

TOEWS:  Well, I think that’s always something that’s easy to measure.  It stands out.  It’s easy to notice. But I think we’ve done that in the past where maybe certain guys aren’t producing as much as expected from them, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not doing other things as well. I’m sure there are some guys on our team that feel that way, that they can bring more.  I’m sure they’re going to find a way to bring that.  We’ve done that in the past.  I think that’s a huge reason why we’ve been successful.  It’s another reason why we feel very confident about our chances in this series.

Q.  How close is this to a must-win?

TOEWS:  We go into every game trying to convince ourselves it’s a must win.  In this situation especially.  Like I said yesterday, it’s pretty obvious we have motivation to win this game. It’s right there in front of us.  We know it’s a must win. When you play in a game like this, you don’t need anything else.  You don’t need any inspiration.  Guys will be ready to play.

Q.  Much is made of the impact you have as the captain.  Do you ever feel that your teammates are kind of following, or not responding to your leadership?  Do you ever get the feeling that they are or are not responding?

TOEWS:  I hope they are a little (laughter). Like I said many times before, I’m not the only guy in that room that’s capable of doing some little things here and there that maybe set the example for the rest of the guys. So it’s not just on a guy like myself.  I think for anyone in our room, everyone’s encouraged to bring that leadership quality out of themselves and to want to set that example in big games, want to be the player that makes the difference for this team. Whether it’s Corey Crawford, Ben Smith or Patrick Kane, when someone is stepping up and playing their best hockey, you look to that guy and say, Why not me?  It kind of trickles down. That’s all we can ask for from guys across our lineup now.

Q.  About Patrick, you were in this situation a year ago, he kind of broke out.  Do you get the sense that’s close for him?  I’m talking about Patrick Kane, not Sharp.  And do you expect to play with him a little tonight?

TOEWS:  Yeah, as far as playing with him, I’m not too sure.  There are always times here and there that Q will throw us together.  I’m always ready for that. Regardless, like I was saying yesterday, Kaner is hard on himself when he doesn’t get that production on a day-to-day basis. Just got to keep playing, keep creating chances the way he does every single game.  Eventually it’s going to come and make a huge difference for our team.

Q.  There have been stretches in the last two games where you’re happy with your game.  What are the focal points to get a complete effort today?

TOEWS:  I don’t know specifically.  But like you said, we want to have that complete effort.  Just about sustaining that energy, that speed that we can bring with four lines, making sure we’re changing well, that we’re not overextending our shifts, that we’re not taking unnecessary penalties. Whenever we have that momentum, whether it’s from killing a big penalty, having a big power play where we generate a bunch of chances, we have to keep that going. Everyone has to realize when there are five guys out on the ice playing well, they need to follow it up the next shift and keep it going.  That’s definitely something we’ll focus on tonight.

Q.  Games 4 through 7, the success, is that a matter of figuring out who your opponent is?

TOEWS:  Maybe kind of understanding our opponent a little bit better.  But us knowing we have to raise our game every single game as we go throughout a series, as the stakes get higher, we’re getting to the point now where it’s time to do that.

Q.  Does this series seem different or does it seem like you can do it again?

TOEWS:  There’s never a doubt in our minds.  We made it this far.  We don’t want to stop now.  We want to keep working, improving like we’ve done in the post-season in previous years. There’s that potential there.  There’s that belief there that we’re that type of team and we have that ability.  We don’t want to pass up any opportunities.

Q.  You played a ton of hockey in the last year.  Is there a way to remember how you felt this time last year, physically and mentally?

TOEWS:  Yeah, I think you learn a little bit more about yourself, what makes you go as a player every single year.  I think last year was a different situation that I was in in maybe 2010.  This year I learned from what I went through in the post-season last year.  Individually you understand those little things you could maybe do differently in hindsight and try to improve upon it.

Q.  Coach, as far as Andrew Shaw, is there a chance we see him on the second line tonight?

QUENNEVILLE:  Well, he’s playing.  We’ll see how it goes as we go along.

Q.  Hint on anything you might do with the lineup?

QUENNEVILLE:  Expect four lines to be balanced, expect energy, expect a hard game.  We want to make sure we get off to a strong start.  But we’ll see.

Q.  Do you take any satisfaction at this point without your big guns scoring goals, that you have the depth?

QUENNEVILLE:  We’ve had challenges both series, going into this series.  Every round is tougher and tougher as you go along.  We saw the same type of thing last year.  Find different ways to overcome the tough situations you’re in. We feel the balance can sometimes overcome our depth and can rise as well.  Our offense in the back end, all four lines can score.  We don’t particularly care who scores.  We feel a lot of nights it can be the difference. Right now we’ve had some positives in all three games.  Disappointed two periods that ended the last two games.  I think that’s the positive we’ve got to take, knowing the importance we got to stress is that every shift is important and critical.  As the games progress, they become more meaningful and that’s where we have to get better at.

Q.  Do you need more speed against the Carter line?

QUENNEVILLE:  I don’t know about speed.  Couple quick, low plays.  A couple we were pressing.  Didn’t matter who was out there.  We’ve gotten more on the offensive side of things and I think all the bulk of their chances happen when we’ve opened it up.

Q.  Any fatigue from this team?

QUENNEVILLE:  None, no, not at all.  No, I think something like that we would feel it.  You would see it.  I’m not giving in to that one.

Q.  What do you think is the explanation for your success in Games 4 through 7?

QUENNEVILLE:  No, give the guys the credit.  They rise to the challenge.  I think the games become more meaningful, bigger stage, bigger challenge.  They seem to rise to that next challenge and occasion. We’ve had some guys that have been in some big stages, some big situations, they find a way, led by our captain, our core group.  Group follows.

Q.  When you look at nine goals over the last two games, do you need Corey to give you a better chance?

QUENNEVILLE:  He’s been excellent for us all playoffs.  We have some guys that we saw even in the first game that can make plays.  They’ve got some finish. I think that’s the difference in probably the first two rounds.  Now they got two lines that are very dangerous offensively.  They got a back end that’s pretty active. I think it’s a good hockey team out there, so let’s make sure that the quality and the quantity we cut back.

Kings center Anze Kopitar shared his thoughts about Toews earlier in the day. Read those thoughts here.

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  1. […] Also, morning skate comments from Toews and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville are up here. […]