All season long Jonathan Toews has been on a tear. He finished the regular season with 23 goals and 25 assists. Toews was 13th in the NHL with 48 points this season. His 23 goals were good for the team lead with Patrick Kane and tied for 5th in the NHL.
But through three games in the series, the captain has yet to register a point. That’s right, no goals, no assists equals no points.
It’s not like Toews is the only star struggling as Patrick Kane hasn’t scored a goal yet in the series. However, Kane has five assists and set up both goals on Sunday. Marian Hossa, Toews linemate, has a goal and an assist. Patrick Sharp has scored two goals and had an assist on Sunday.
That’s not to say that Toews isn’t doing anything because he is. Toews was able to open up a shooting lane on the goal by Johnny Oduya in the first period. Then he annoyed Cal Clutterbuck enough that Clutterbuck stupidly went after Toews as both were coming off the ice rather than straight to his bench so that another player may get on the ice. This led to the game tying goal for Duncan Keith.
Toews has been asked to do everything and there is plenty that he does. He has been part of a perfect Blackhawks penalty kill so far and is playing over 20 minutes a game. Toews has been stellar in the faceoff circle so far as he is 42-27 through three games which is good for a 60.9 win percentage.
But there hasn’t been enough offensive production from Toews who holds the franchise record for most points in a playoff with 29 in 2009-2010. Toews has been pretty ordinary so far and hasn’t been a difference maker. There hasn’t been enough momentum generating shifts from his line.
It’s not for a lack of trying on the part of Toews. He has registered 8 shots on goal so far and had 4 today. But it has been obvious that the focus of Minnesota is to stop the top line. They have thrown Ryan Suter, Mikko Koviu and Zach Parise at it all series along with someone like Clutterbuck.
This has allowed the second line of Kane, Sharp and Michal Handzus to thrive so far. Right now the Wild seem to be content to let Kane rack up his points as long as they can neutralize the Toews, Hossa and Brandon Saad line.
But the last time that Toews was doubted in the playoffs was after game three of the 2010 conference quarterfinals against Nashville after the Hawks were down 2-1 in the series. He had only registered one assist and was a minus three. Toews was a minus two in game three as Nashville dominated the Hawks physically and on the shot chart.
What did Toews do after his poor performance in the first three games? He responded by registering at least one point in the next 13 games. This broke a franchise record for most consecutive games with a point in the playoffs that was held by the great Stan Mikita. In those 13 games, Toews recorded 7 goals and 18 assists.
I’m not saying that Toews is going to go on a tear. But three years ago when the Hawks needed him, he stepped up and gave them the jolt they needed.
For the Hawks, they need Toews to be the all around player that is the reason he is a serious contender for the Hart Trophy. That means they need him to kill penalties, win faceoffs, be a pest defensively, create offense by putting the puck in the net or creating for others. It is true that the game isn’t only offense but what the Hawks need from Toews now is pucks in the back of the net either by him or his linemates.
No one doubts the captain can do it because the last time he was doubted the whole world saw what Toews could do.