- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Finding Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews a more favorable matchup could be one strategy Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville pursues to get his team going Sunday in Game 5 against the Minnesota Wild after two consecutive losses in their second-round series.
Toews suffered his worst possession game of the season in Friday's Game 4, according to extraskater.com, recording a 27.6 Corsi percentage. The Blackhawks had eight shots for and 21 against when Toews was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations. He had zero points, two shots on goal and minus-1 rating in the 4-2 loss, which allowed Minnesota to knot the series 2-2.
Wild coach Mike Yeo utilized his opportunity to change lines last at home by predominantly matching Toews up with forwards Nino Niederreiter, Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle and defensemen Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin. The Wild’s forward line spent eight-plus minutes on the ice with Toews and the defensemen spent 11-plus minutes.
Yeo began putting that line with Toews’ in Game 3. It had slightly less success possession wise but still kept Toews contained. He had a 59.4 Corsi percentage with 19 shots for and 13 against in 5-on-5 situations. He also had zero points, two shots on goal and a minus-1 rating.
Quenneville was able to get Toews facing Wild forward Zach Parise and his line more during the first two games. Toews had a team-high 73.7 Corsi percentage, with 14 shots for and five against, in Game 2 while facing Parise for nearly 10 minutes. Toews had a goal and a plus-1 rating in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win in Game 2. He also had an assist, a plus-1 rating and a 36.0 Corsi percentage (nine shots for and 16 against) in Game 1.
Quenneville said Saturday he could use his own opportunity for last line change to free Toews from seeing the same players he saw in Games 3 and 4.
"I would think every team in the league, probably its No. 1 priority [is to limit Toews]," Quenneville said. "The matchup, they’ve had it both games. Suter probably plays exclusively against Toews on the back end, and up front he sees a lot of Koivu. We’ll see. I know that having the last change we’ll see what we can do, what we look to do. Every game is different, but, certainly, that’s a very good pair, and it’s a very good line as well."
Toews is third on the Blackhawks with nine points in the playoffs. He has four goals and five assists in 10 games.