Jonathan Toews was targeted by Coyotes, but he came out in one piece
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 13, 2012 10:52PM
Updated: May 15, 2012 8:10AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Phoenix Coyotes checked, slammed and basically punched Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews on nearly every opportunity they had in Game 1.
But no worries. Toews, who played in his first game after missing 22 in a row with a concussion, feels just fine.
“I expected worse and that’s not to undershoot what happened [Thursday] night,” said Toews, who was one of several Hawks to take part in their optional skate Friday.
“I’m going to be at the net. I’m going to be right there in front of the goalie every whistle and every chance they get they’re going to take shots. I expected that. It’s no big deal. I’m just happy with the way I dealt with it.”
Toews played 24:49 in his first game in nearly two months, scoring on his second shift and assisting on Brent Seabrook’s overtime-forcing goal.
If there was one blow that stood out, it was veteran and family friend Shane Doan slamming Toews to the ice in the second period behind the Coyotes goal. But Toews sprang right back up.
“There is going to be a lot of situations like that,” Toews said. “If you go in there full force and don’t let up, you’re in less danger of getting hurt than if you let up and let him come at you full steam. You don’t want to put yourself in those dangerous situations by taking it easy and being too cautious.”
Doan said the Coyotes weren’t exactly targeting Toews.
“You recognize how incredibly good Jonathan Toews is,” Doan said. “He’s as good a player as there is in the league. [But] we’re going to be physical with everyone. We have to be. We just can’t let them skate. They’ve got too much skill.”
Toews didn’t hesitate to fight for space in front of goalie Mike Smith. But there are still things he wants to do better in Game 2 on Saturday, including being more engaged in plays in the corners and cycling.
“One thing at a time,” Toews said. “My mind-set going into the game was just to keep things simple and try to limit my mistakes.”
Coach Joel Quenneville hinted at possible lineup changes for Game 2, including breaking up Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa on the first line.
“We’ll see,” said Quenneville, who often makes changes after losses. “I know that we’ll look at some options. We’ve got some depth. We’ve got five guys here who want to play as well.”
An ailing Coyote
Coyotes top scorer Radim Vrbata is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, which he apparently suffered when Hawks grinder Andrew Shaw hit him into the boards early in the first period.
“He went to pinch the puck in, and I finished my check on him and he went into the boards awkwardly,” said Shaw, who thought Vrbata might have hurt his shoulder.