The Chicago Blackhawks are already without winger Patrick Kane for the remainder of the regular season, and on Wednesday head coach Joel Quenneville delivered the bad news that the team will be missing Jonathan Toews the rest of the way as well.
The Hawks’ captain, who was injured on Sunday on a hit from Brooks Orpik in the Hawks’ loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, will miss the remaining six games of the regular season, but Quenneville is optimistic that he will be back for the NHL playoffs.
The postseason begins on April 16th, and the Blackhawks will likely be facing the Colorado Avalanche in the first round under the league’s new divisional playoff format.
The Blackhawks already have a playoff spot locked up, but they are still jockeying for position with the Avalanche as the season nears its end. Losing Toews and Kane for the stretch run certainly isn’t going to help things, but the absences of their two star players will provide opportunities for some of the younger players on the team to step up.
That group includes guys like Joakim Nordstrom and Matt Carey, who could see time as bottom six forwards with the promotion of wingers like Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad. Teuvo Teravainen will also get some quality time on the power play and at even strength in the coming weeks, and with his exquisite play-making skills, he could see a great deal of success in that role.
All of that being said however, there is simply no way to adequately replace a guy like Toews. Even though he is only slated to miss around six games, his skills on both sides of the ice can’t be replicated by any of the centers on the roster, and it will be interesting to see how the team will respond to this huge challenge.