Jonathan Toews will sit out Tuesday against Predators
By Adam L. Jahns email@example.com January 23, 2012 11:03PM
Jonathan Toews leads the NHL in faceoff percentage and is second on the team with 50 points. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: February 25, 2012 8:21AM
So far, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will miss just the game Tuesday against the Nashville Predators and most likely some All-Star revelry in Ottawa this weekend.
And even though Toews’ suspected left wrist/hand injury isn’t serious, the Hawks should do their best to keep it that way. In fact, Hawks fans should consider it good news that Toews likely won’t participate in the All-Star Game or skills competition.
He wasn’t 100 percent against the Predators in their 5-2 loss Saturday, and there is no reason to risk further damage.
“[Toews] plays in every situation, just huge in every aspect of the game,” forward Patrick Kane said. “He’s just a complete player.”
Toews, who leads the NHL in faceoff percentage, is in the midst of his best season statistically with 27 goals and 50 points in 49 games. There already were columns in Canada declaring him the top choice for the Hart Trophy.
The Hawks have been without Toews before. He missed two games with a shoulder injury last year, and he has battled various ailments throughout his career, including a concussion and a sprained knee.
“You certainly miss his leadership and how important he is to our team,” said coach Joel Quenneville, who also said there isn’t a definitive play that resulted in Toews’ injury.
“A game like Saturday, you don’t have him in all areas, and sometimes you might use him differently knowing he wasn’t 100 percent. It changes the complexions of what our options are.”
The Hawks have relied on their offense to carry them. So what do they do without Toews and Patrick Sharp (wrist) against the Predators?
Without Sharp (20 goals) for the last seven games, the Hawks have gone 5-1-1. They’ve benefitted from a favorable schedule, but a stingier defense has been crucial. They also have received big games from rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, as well as Viktor Stalberg and Dave Bolland.
“The latest story is probably the young kids coming in, filling in and doing a real good job,” Kane said. “This is a big opportunity for myself and a lot of guys here. Especially with the way things have been going, you really want to pick up your game and make these injuries not seem as bad as they really are.”
With Toews, the Hawks already were thin at center. Without him, Bolland will move to the first line with Kane and Stalberg. Winger Michael Frolik will center the third line.
“I don’t want [Bolland] to change how he plays,” Quenneville said. “Play to your strengths, especially [Tuesday] because it’s going to be a tight game.”
The Hawks are hoping it’s the only game they’re without Sharp, who has resumed skating, and Toews.
“Obviously, you can’t replace a player like [Sharp] or [Toews],” Kane said.