Blackhawks end road trip with 4-1 loss to Pens, Toews injured - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Hawks end road trip with 4-1 loss to Pens, Toews injured

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

After suffering a 4-1 defeat in Pittsburgh the Chicago Blackhawks have now lost three consecutive games. To make matters worse, Jonathan Toews left the game near the 13-minute mark of the second period after suffering an apparent injury to his left arm.

Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik hit Toews high and hard along the boards. Toews probably should have been more aware of Orpik being on the ice. Orpik has a reputation as a player always looking for an advantageous hit, he has a long resume of inflicting injuries.

There is a difference between an advantageous hit and one that is punishable by suspension, but this one could be both. In this case Orpik looked like he might have been off the ice when he made contact but he did not come up with his elbow to drill Toews in the head. If it is determined Orpik's skates were off the ice when contact was made he could be in line for a suspension.

Simply put, Orpik took advantage of Toews looking down and came in full force right after the puck was gone. The hit wasn't to separate Toews from the puck. Toews no longer had the puck, but he was in a position for Orpik to inflict punishment. Toews got pasted and Orpik accomplished what he intended to do.

Hockey is a rough game and hits like that would happen more regularly but the majority of time players pull up. Orpik has a reputation for hitting players who are vulnerable and Toews was unaware he was coming.

In today's game with the instigator penalty, fighting isn't a solution. Orpik doesn't fight anyway and the Blackhawks didn't seek any retribution.

Pittsburgh came out to prove a point and pounded away at the Blackhawks from the opening puck drop. The best way for Chicago to answer the physical challenge was to inflict hard hits legally to the Penguin skill players.

The Hawks needed to amp up their physical play before the Toews injury and certainly there was reason to do so afterward. Finishing hard clean checks would have made a statement. It wasn't to be, as there weren't any noticeable attempts by the Blackhawks to send a message to Pittsburgh.

It was obvious from the beginning the Pens were going to play a physical game. Pittsburgh's opening line was of the makeshift variety, big and tough, to faceoff versus the Toews line.

After the opening period the hits were 17-6 in favor of the Penguins. So Orpik taking full advantage of an opportunity should have come as no surprise.

Losing Toews certainly didn't help the Chicago cause but that isn't why the Hawks lost.

The Penguins had their way throughout the opening frame and scored on their first two scoring chances. Defensive miscues and careless play leads to odd-man breaks and Pittsburgh took full advantage.

Corey Crawford on his best night probably makes saves on the Penguin's first two markers. The second goal was one Crawford should save even if he wasn't at his best.

The Hawks continued to sputter until about the midpoint of the second period. Then they began to look like a hard-working team focused on getting bodies to the Pittsburgh net. The Hawks scored their only goal that way, and although they outplayed Pittsburgh going forward they couldn't tie the score.

After another head-scratching play by Brent Seabrook, who was the goat for this game, Sidney Crosby scored on a two-on-one. Crosby then added an empty net goal and the Hawks left the ice beaten physically and on the scoreboard.

This is an unusually tough spot for Joel Quenneville.

He can't seem to get a full sixty minute effort out of his squad. There are also injuries to key players. Quenneville can't bench the veterans that are making mistakes or not fully engaged. If so he would be playing with a really short bench.

According to Quenneville's post-game comments concerning the Toews injury, he will be reassessed Tuesday. The Hawks bench boss also thought the injury wasn't serious and called Toews status, day-to-day.

My translation is, Toews has an injury that will keep him off the ice for awhile. It appears like it isn't anything that will require surgery but more diagnostics will take place Monday to determine the severity.

The Blackhawks will be off until Thursday before taking on Minnesota at the United Center. It will be interesting to see how hard Quenneville works his club over the next few days. Lately it appears that he can't get his message across.

The Hawks haven't only been slumping since they returned from the Olympic break, or since Patrick Kane was injured. The good ship Blackhawks has been taking on water since January.

March has ended with a thud and Hawk faithful will be hoping the rest of spring is much better.

I will be back on Friday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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