CHICAGO – In the Stanley Cup Final, nothing matters more than scoring more goals than the other team.
As for which players score those goals, nothing matters less to the Blackhawks.
So was I, until so many Hawks echoed the we-don’t-care message so many times that I couldn’t help but believe that they were being sincere.
“I don’t really care who scores,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Friday as he fielded questions about some players who were scoring and others who were not. “As long as we get some production across the board.”
It turns out that none of the Hawks care as long as the job gets done.
Leave it to the rest of us to keep track of individual goals as the Hawks look to double their series lead Saturday in Game 2 against the Boston Bruins. Bryan Bickell and Patrick Sharp are at the top of the list with eight playoff goals apiece. Marian Hossa is next with seven, then Patrick Kane with six, then Andrew Shaw with five.
To the Hawks, we might as well be comparing hits or blocked shots.
“I don’t think it matters – goals,” said Hawks forward Dave Bolland, who scored his first goal of the playoffs Wednesday en route to an unforgettable triple-overtime win. “I think it’s a matter of heart and the way you play.
“Goals are always big, points are always big, but if you’re playing your heart out every night and you’re playing your game, the goals will come.”
What if they don’t?
“Goals are goals,” Bolland said with a shrug. “I think when you’re keeping that puck out of the back of your net, that’s the main thing.”
That’s a theme with the Hawks.
Defense matters. Discipline is key. Depth can make the difference.
None of those factors lead the box score – goals do – but all play an enormous role.
Michal Handzus knows this as well as anyone. The 36-year-old forward has played in 950 career regular-season games, not to mention 92 career playoff games.
“In the playoffs, usually if you look at the teams that get to the finals or win the Cup, it’s not all of the time the top players,” Handzus said. “Usually, those matches, you play top guys against top guys, and they can kind of nullify each other pretty good.
“And then you need those role players to get through and win it for your team.”
Shaw did so in Game 1 against the Bruins to attain celebrity status.
Bolland scored, too. So did Brandon Saad. Other heroes have included second-tier players such as Michael Frolik, Marcus Kruger and Johnny Oduya.
But even those guys don’t care about scoring goals.
“You can see it on the bench,” Frolik said. “If somebody scores, we’re all pumped up, and we’re all cheering for each other.
“For sure, it feels nice when you score and you can help the team. You feel proud of it. But it doesn’t really matter who scores. It’s just about having one more goal than the opponent.”
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.