So much for putting Jonathan Toews out to pasture. Tuesday night’s 5-3 Blackhawk win over the Minnesota Wild put any of those thoughts to rest. 5 points will do that for you. So will a hat trick, the fourth of his career.
Was the criticism leveled at Toews warranted? I believe so. When you’ve set a standard of play for yourself and a whole organization, it comes with the territory. Were there other issues affecting the Captain’s play? Again, I believe so. Although you’ll never get Toews to say so, it was pretty apparent he was not 100%. There wasn’t the usual quickness to his game. Some have floated the idea of the inconsistency of his linemates. I get that. Or….”He just wasn’t getting the bounces at the start of the year. He always worked so hard. You knew at some point tides were going to change for him,” said Nick Schmaltz, whose slick behind-the-back pass led to Toews’ second goal of the night. “Pucks are going in, he’s hanging around the net and he’s burying a few lately. It’s great to see.”
Another thing that’s been great to see is the emerge of a second scoring line. The Toews-Richard Panik-Schmaltz line accounted for all five Chicago goals. As a unit, they put 10 points on the stat sheet. They have become a dangerous threesome.
Let’s revisit the landscape some thirteen days ago. Patrick Kane was calling the game against the Minnesota Wild their biggest game of the year. The media scoffed at such a suggestion. The Hawks won 4-3 in OT that night and since then have ripped off wins against Winnnipeg, Edmonton, Buffalo and now Minnesota again. Not only do I agree with Kaner, but that lone Wild win on February 8th has reset a tone in the locker room. The boys are on a mission.
Rumors surfaced yesterday of Chicago being close to acquiring a forward before the trading deadline on March 1st. I like the thought of additional firepower but the interesting dilemma is…..does it need to be a top-six player? I’m waffling on which I would rather see. Depth or a top scorer. And what would the cost be to acquire someone? If I’m Stan Bowman I might be tempted to acquire a defenseman as a first priority. It’s on you Stan. That’s why you get the big bucks.
For some takeaways…being 5 points down to the Wild in the standings as opposed to 9, if they had lost is huge. Minnesota now has a “seed” of doubt as they think playoffs. Twice in less than two weeks Chicago has beaten the Wild in their house. Will the Hawks overtake Minnesota in the standings? I don’t think that’s the goal now as much as it would be a bragging right to win the division. Think. ONE GOAL. And lastly, as well as the Hawks have played, we haven’t seen the Corey Crawford of old in net. He has been up and down since his surgery in December. If he gets on one of his rolls, the Blackhawks will be a tough out.
Thursday evening, Phoenix comes to town and then on Sunday…it’s the Blues of St. Louis. One game at a time. That’s the mantra. One game, one goal.
Thanks for checking in,
Notes: The win last night was the 400th of coach Joel Quenneville’s Chicago career….The Blackhawks won their seventh consecutive road game, tying a franchise record first set during the 1964-65 season