For all of the attention that Patrick Kane receives in Chicago, and rightfully so, don’t forget that other young guy that just so happens to the captain of the Blackhawks and is an offensive threat as well. That being Olympic gold medalist Jonathan Toews.
Toews put on a show last night in Vancouver as the Blackhawks ran the Canucks out of their own building 7-4 behind Toews hat trick and two assists. All three of his goals came on a power play that went 4 of 8 last night and lambasted Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo all night long.
“The power play had a heck of a night,” said Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, who chipped in with a goal and three assists last night. The power play was effective due to the lack of discipline on the part of Vancouver as they were whistled for seemingly infantile penalties such as Daniel Sedin cracking his stick across Kris Versteeg’s leg, Alex Burrows cross-checking Dustin Byfuglien in the neck during a scrum and Shane O’ Brien going to the penalty box for cross-checking Byfuglien in the first period, twice.
“We didn’t react well to what was going on and they made us pay for it,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “I really believe that this group is ready for this moment, but obviously our actions right now are proving me wrong.” It also doesn’t help that the Blackhawks are taking advantage of every opportunity that the Canucks are giving them. The Hawks are 7 of 24 on the power in the series and have dismantled Luongo who was facing questions about his leadership and production long before the postseason began. Now with their playoff lives hanging by a thread, the talk has been raised again.
“He’s the second-best goaltender on the ice,” Vigneault said after the Blackhawks scored 6 goals on 33 shots against Luongo in game four. They’ve scored thirteen goals in the two games at General Motors Place. Meanwhile his counterpart Antti Niemi has been better since his game one meltdown only allowing 8 goals in the last 3 contests and finally bringing some stability to a goaltending situation that was becoming dire in Chicago.
Yet the man in the spotlight tonight was Toews who at times seems like a forgotten man on a team that had six 20-goal scorers this year and Toews 25 seemed pretty pedestrian. Yet Toews doesn’t laud for attention that he should rightfully receive. He’s not really an outgoing guy like Kane and is way more reserved. Hence the reason the Blackhawks decided to give him the captains “C” at the age of 20. His poise has rubbed off on his teammates and it showed last night as they held their composure while Vancouver crumbled around them.
Toews production has also increased throughout the series as he has taken advantage of a lackluster Luongo and has 10 points in 4 games and now leads the NHL in postseason scoring with 18 points. Not bad for a guy that finished third on the team in scoring in the regular season behind Kane and defenseman Duncan Keith.
Now Toews and the team’s collective cool heads have put the Canucks on the brink of elimination and have the Blackhawks one step closer to achieving a goal that every analyst in the NHL has had the pegged for since the beginning of the season, that being the Stanley Cup. “It’s nice to get up in the series, but it’s far from over,” Toews said. “We’ll be happy when it’s over.” If the Toews and the Blackhawks play like they’ve played in the last two games than it should be over on Sunday Night