The Blackhawks have only been without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews once the past seven seasons.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville announced Wednesday that Toews has been shut down for the final six regular-season games after he suffered an upper-body injury on Sunday. Kane's regular season ended when he was placed on the long-term injured reserve following a lower-body injury against the St. Louis Blues on March 19.
In six games without Kane, the Blackhawks have missed his offense and how he allows them to be a deeper team across all four lines. The Blackhawks went 2-4 during that stretch and were outscored 14-5 in 5-on-5 situations.
Now without Toews also, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville understands his team has to play differently to be successful.
"Obviously, we missed Kaner on that trip there, but now without Jonny and him at the same time, offensively, there's a [difference]," Quenneville said prior to playing the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. "I think that's why we're looking to play a tight, simple game, and I don't think you have quite the skill across the board and those guys usually enhance their linemates and their lines. So it's a situation where we have to make sure we play the right way. We've got to play hard, we've got to play simple, and look to play tight."
The only other time the Blackhawks were without Kane and Toews, the game was meaningless. They were both healthy scratches in the final game of the 2012-13 season because the Blackhawks had already clinched the Presidents' Trophy.
This time, the game is important. The Blackhawks are still hoping to push the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The Avalanche lead the Blackhawks by three points and have a game in hand.
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who will replace Toews on the top line, is confident they can still win without Kane and Toews.
"I think the team has the character and determination we need," Shaw said. "We're just going to go out there, work hard and compete. We're pushing for that home-ice advantage in the first round."
The stars' absence leaves the Blackhawks without their second and third points leaders. Kane has 69 points on the season and Toews has 68. Patrick Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks with 73 points, believes it's important to not attempt to single-handedly make up for the missing offense.
"I'm not really going to change much," Sharp said. "I'm going to do what I did all season long. I'm not going to try to take anything else on. I'm going to play the game I've played from start to finish and hopefully continue to have success that way."
The Blackhawks won't be a complete team again until the playoffs, when Kane and Toews are expected to return, but Quenneville expects them to snap out of their funk before then. They have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.
"We want to turn it on right now," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure we're not going to rely on that going into the last game or going into the playoffs. All of a sudden, we got to reignite our team game. That's why we want to make sure we're doing the right things within games and play the right way.
"You've got to bring passion. You've got to bring intensity. And you have to bring meaning to every shift. That's what the playoffs are all about. But don't expect to just do it come Game 83."