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Hawks’ Brouwer at his best when he’s physical

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Troy Brouwer is at his best when he’s physical, whether it’s in front of opposing nets, working for pucks in corners or sending opponents crashing into the boards.

In the Blackhawks’ 7-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, being physical also meant fighting.

“They were starting to get momentum, some scoring chances and a power play or two,” Brouwer said Wednesday before the Hawks left Columbus for Chicago. “We just needed to find a way to make sure to hold on to that game.”

For Brouwer, that meant dropping the gloves against Marc Methot in the third period and avenging some hits that had turned the momentum in the Blue Jackets’ favor. Methot had a hard check on Hawks star Patrick Kane. Brouwer landed a couple of solid strikes in the fight, but Methot held his own.

“It was kind of built up [with] his hit on Kane and [R.J.] Umberger’s hit on [Brent] Seabrook,” Brouwer said. “It was a little bit of everything. You’ve got to stand in there and say, ‘It’s not going to be tolerated.’

“I knew who I was hitting in the corner, and right way I asked him if he wanted to have a fight — and he looked a little bit surprised. But he was obviously ready and willing. We just made sure both of us were going to go after it and square off. It was a good, clean fight.”

It also was a good sign for the Hawks. Methot’s hit on Kane was just one of many big ones opponents have landed on the Hawks’ best players, including Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. If enforcer John Scott is not in the lineup, the more players that respond to such hits, the better.

“It does need to happen once in a while,” said Brouwer, who last fought on Nov. 24. “But after every hit, I don’t know. If it’s a clean hit, depending on who the player is, it’s tough to say. But you do have to protect your star players and make sure that type of play won’t be tolerated.”

Coach Joel Quenneville was happy with Brouwer’s resolve against the Blue Jackets.

“[It] was perfect how he played the whole situation out, and he handled himself well,” Quenneville said.

Overall, Brouwer has made it a point to be more physical this season for the Hawks. He leads the team in hits with 169, which is the fifth most in the league.

“The coaches said they wanted me to be more physical,” said Brouwer, who has 15 goals and 29 points. “I had a slow start to the season, and I had to do something to make sure I was being noticed and staying in the lineup every night.

“For me, I need to be physical to play well. The coaches really stressed on it this year. I’m successful when I’m physical, and that’s how I make guys around me successful.”

Right now that physical play benefits Toews and Kane.

“He’s done a real good job,” Quenneville said. “[He can] be a presence, be it going to the net, strong in the puck areas or [just] being physical. He complements the two guys he’s working with, and he did what to do [against Methot] as well.”

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