HAWKS IN BRIEF: Captain Toews remains strong in tough times
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
No player feels the brunt of the Blackhawks' struggles more than Jonathan Toews.
His numbers -- five goals, 14 points and a plus-4 rating in 20 games -- would tell you he's having a pretty solid season. Toews, though, expects more from himself and his team. His value is more than what the scoresheet indicates. As captain, Toews won't let any early frustrations boil over.
''We're going to stay up, and we're going to stay with it,'' Toews said. ''We're looking at the big picture when you go through a rough time like this, and, more specifically, that's just remembering that we're a good team and what we're capable of doing.''
It's tough maintaining a positive attitude in times like these. The Hawks' title defense has been marred by inconsistency and maddening losses. Coach Joel Quenneville thinks Toews has handled the adversity well.
He had another strong game Sunday in a 3-2 overtime victory against the Anaheim Ducks. He's still a bit snakebitten, getting turned away by Jonas Hiller on some quality chances, but he was effective. Toews had four shots, three hits, two blocks and won 67 percent of his draws.
''He puts a lot of the onus and responsibility on his own shoulders,'' Quenneville said. ''That's something he can learn to share a little bit more among the leadership group or the team. But that's the type of guy he is. That's how proud he is, how competitive he is. He's not happy. As a coach, you want that type of attitude among everyone. He's the perfect guy in that regard.''
Toews said some good can come from this early adversity.
''Good teams go through tough moments like this, and for us, it's coming earlier this year,'' Toews said. ''We know we're just going to be better from it once we get out of it, once we get going and start getting points on the board. We're not going to get frustrated from this.''
Hossa on target
Believe it or not, the last time Marian Hossa had a point before Sunday was Oct. 18 against the St. Louis Blues. An upper-body injury that kept him out five games didn't help either.
Hossa had a goal and an assist against the Ducks, ending a seven-game streak without a point. He opened the season with seven goals and 11 points in the first seven games.
''After the injury, it took a few games to get into it,'' Hossa said. ''We felt, even [Saturday against the Nashville Predators] we did a lot of good things and we were getting closer. It felt like we could keep building on it.''
After three games without any production on the power play, Quenneville opted for change. Brent Seabrook and Hossa replaced Duncan Keith and Tomas Kopecky on the first unit with Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. Keith and Kopecky were on the second unit with Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer and Brian Campbell.
The Hawks were 0-for-8 on the power play in their previous three games -- all losses. On Sunday, Kane ended that streak, putting in a rebound of a Sharp shot 3:37 into the first period. Hossa added another power-play goal in the second period. They were 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
''We changed the look,'' Quenneville said. ''It was a fresh look. There was a lot of skill out there.''
Kane returned to right wing after playing two games on the left side on a line with Hossa. He played with Toews and Viktor Stalberg and had a more productive game at even strength than the last two games. Sharp played with Hossa and Bolland.
Defensemen John Scott and Jordan Hendry were scratched. Jassen Cullimore continued to see time as the Hawks' sixth defenseman.