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Saturday, October 15, 2011
Keith, Toews struggles out of the gate

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks got the contributions from role players they needed in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, but when Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith struggle, they should feel fortunate to come away with a point.

Keith was on the ice and in the middle of both goals against that the Bruins scored in regulation. Toews made a bad decision on the third period game-tying goal and missed in the shootout.

“The tough part is knowing that we were up by one,” Keith said afterwards. “It would have been nice to get another one to try and put it away.”

Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews hasn't started the season at his typically torrid pace.

Toews was moving in the right direction with the puck in order to add a goal, but he went backwards with it, handing it over to a Bruin. After a dumpin past Keith, he and Nick Leddy didn’t communicate well and Keith was left chasing Johnny Boychuk around the net. It was too late. Boychuck found Nathan Horton and the game was tied.

“We got to get that puck,” Joel Quenneville said of the dump-in. “Should be our puck but we don’t have to go back to give it to them either though.”

Toews and Keith. It’s not often the former is involved in a poor play like that and despite an overall good night by Leddy he could have helped prevent the breakdown as well. Keith, meanwhile, is still finding his way back to elite status. He had a chance to break up the Bruins first goal, a shorthanded tally.

“I didn’t really see what happened,” he said. “It was a 2-on-1. I think I could do a better job playing that 2-on-1.”

On offense, Toews seems to be struggling as well. Pucks are just eluding him and his linemates. Five-on-five, the trio of Toews, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Brunette have done very little damage.

“Kaner had a special night,” Quenneville said. “[Dave Bolland's] line is very dangerous, whenever they are together,r but we need more out of that line, yeah.”

Toews had just two shots on net but won 61 percent of his faceoffs. His struggles are the exception more than the rule. Keith would like that description about his game as well but through four games he might look more like the 2010-2011 Keith than the Norris Trophy winner of the year before that.

It’s early but the Hawks can’t afford slow starts by their core guys. Their play has to be a given on most nights. Saturday it wasn’t.