But the Hawks might be the deepest team in the NHL across the front line and coach Joel Quenneville has plenty of scorers ready to step into Toews’ slot with the first line. Andrew Shaw moved up to claim the centerman’s place alongside Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell and the offense barely lost a stride. Quenneville, in fact, seemed less worried about Chicago’s ability to attack than he did getting a Toews-caliber commitment from all of his forwards to bottle up Boston behind their own blue line.
Shaw, a rookie, doesn’t have the numbers or trophies Toews does, but it’s clear he’s already bought into the idea of following the captain’s lead. Asked whether this game had “broken” the Bruins, he shut the question down almost before it was complete.
“You can’t say that,” he said. “They’re a great team. We saw what they did in the Toronto series, coming back in that last game. We know they’ll push to the end.”
The Bruins erased a 4-1 deficit with 11 minutes left in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and advanced. But Chicago is in a different class. The Blackhawks are more skilled, shift vs. shift, than anybody they’ve run into all season long, and as Rask pointed out, they punish teams that open up the ice trying to play catch-up.
There’s little Julien can do to change that balance of power, beyond coaxing even more effort from a team that’s already on the back foot — and has been there before during the postseason.
“Right now our goal is to create a Game ... It’s as simple as that. Again, there is no panic. You’re not going to push us away that easily. We’re a committed group,” he said finally, “and we plan on bouncing back.”