Jonathan Toews lost it.
The Blackhawks captain lost his composure. Lost a period. Maybe lost a playoff series and a season.
It was costly and embarrassing, and those two points are more than Toews has in this series against Detroit.
The Hawks were looking for heroes. Toews was looking for a goal. With the Hawks fighting to avoid a three-games-to-one deficit against Detroit in Game 4 on Thursday night, it seemed like a good time for the center on the top line deliver.
Toews entered Game 4 with no goals in eight playoff games this year and just three in his last 29. Both Toews and the Hawks needed something big.
What the Hawks got was misery. They got outward frustration. They got their captain in the penalty box. Three times. Ahem, leadership.
After failing on a 2-on-1 break in the first period, Toews took three penalties in the first 11 minutes of the second period of a scoreless game. The Wings converted the second opportunity to take a 1-0 lead the Hawks couldn’t afford after skating so aggressively but failing to accomplish themselves.
Thanks, Capt. Self-Destruction.
Sure, the Wings are targeting Toews, but the best players have to fight through the abuse in the playoffs. They have to set the example. They have to score. They can’t scream and flail and lose composure.
Toews has one assist and is a minus-2 in this series. Even in the Hawks’ one, measly win, way back in Game 1, if you can remember, Toews was a minus player. Too much ice time, too little production.
Before and after Toews’ meltdown, the Hawks showed signs of being able to take this must-win contest. It wasn’t the Hawks’ best game, but it was better than the one the Wings brought.
Problem was, the Hawks’ output mirrored the meager offensive results of Games 2 and 3.
Check that: worse, as they suffered their first shutout this season.
Patrick Kane? Anything?
Marian Hossa? You there?
Patrick Sharp? A little something?
The Hawks forechecked well enough to force turnovers all over the Red Wings zone, but Jimmy Howard came up big.
The Hawks also used their speed to force the Wings into penalties, but again, nothing.
Nothing, period. Nothing is what this dwindling season is turning into.
The Hawks were looking for heroes. They didn’t need their captain to pretty much waste a period. They didn’t need the rest of the band to pretty much waste a great regular season.