Hawks Thoughts - Toews Keeps Proving His Worth
Captain Serious, a.k.a. Jonathan Toews, gets paid the big bucks for many reasons. He scores goals, he sets up plays, he digs out the puck in corners in order to set up said plays and he shuts down some of the most lethal opposing offensive threats in the NHL.
Of course, you already knew that.
Good players in the NHL can provide offense for their teams throughout the season on a consistent basis. Great players can do the same thing, while scoring the big goal when their team really needs it to steal the win from their opponents grasp just before the buzzer.
And then there is Jonathan Toews. Somewhow, Captain Serious is able to do all of those things and more. A lot of players show mere flashes of what Toews does nearly every night for the Chicago Blackhawks throughout the long NHL season.
Historically, Toews tends to get off to a bit of a slow start at the beginning of the season, then starts to hit his stride about a quarter of the way through. He has a bit of a habit of then really turning on his engines in the latter half of the 82 games as playoff teams begin to hit the stretch drive into post season.
I don't think it's much of a secret that Toews was a huge reason the Blackhawks made the playoffs on the brink of elimination after a rocky start last year. As the captain of his club, it was necessary for someone to take the reigns and really steer his team back on course, doing so almost single-handedly.
Despite the unfortunate early exit out of the playoffs, Toews made a statement to the league that he has the ability to take over games, something only elite players, centermen especially, really possess the power to do. After all, he finished the season with career highs in assists (44), points (76) and plus/minus (+25).
Toews once again got off to a bit of a slow start this season. In his first 10 games, he only put up 6 points. Granted, the team as a whole was playing some decent hockey during that stretch and it wasn't breaking his team's success, but he amassed lower totals than you might expect.
In the last 10 games, though, Toews has been an absolute monster on the score sheet. He's put up 8 goals and 8 assists during that stretch, courtesy of a huge 5 point night against Anaheim where he also netted the game winner. What is so significant about this jump in point production is not just the sheer numbers, but more so the timing.
Two games before Toews posted 5 points against Anaheim, the Blackhawks were completely humiliated 9-2 by the Edmonton Oilers. Regardless of how much better the Oilers are offensively this year, a 9-2 clobbering is unacceptable, nor was the 5-2 loss they suffered at the hands of Calgary the previous game. After the merciless slaughter by Edmonton, the Blackhawks then played a much better defensive game against San Jose despite losing 1-0.
It was clear that Toews had decided this was not going to continue on Chicago's trip through west coast against the Sharks and the Ducks if he could help it, and he made sure of that by posting 2 goals and 3 assists against the Ducks, in a game where the Hawks went down 2-0 in the first 3 minutes. Chicago stormed its way to the win by scoring 4 unanswered goals in the 3rd period to win it 6-5, led all the way by Toews' big night.
Because Jonathan Toews does so much for his team night in and night out in terms of scoring, assisting, forechecking, defending, etc, it is not entirely essential for him to spread his points out evenly over the course of the season. He does score in bunches from time to time but it generally occurs when his team needs it the most. If it allows his team to keep winning, then by all means, keep it going.
The Blackhawks have a great advantage in their offensive depth, especially with a healthy Marian Hossa and successful experiment with Patrick Kane at Center. However, the Blackhawks have seen their share of adversity even just 24 games into the season. Will the Blackhawks make the playoffs this year? Well, if they maintain the level of play we're seeing right now with a remote sense of consistency - yes, especially with Toews continuing to put up big numbers.
Great teams need their best players to be exactly that - their best players. In the last 10 games, there is no question who the Blackhawks' best player has been. With so many other great players on the Blackhawks' roster, both offensively and defensively, Chicago has a great shot to make a deep playoff run this year, with Captain Serious leading the way there.
Hawk, Hawk, Hawk it up!
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