Jonathan Toews eager to share credit for Hawks’ 5-game winning streak
Adam L. jahns ON THE blackhawks March 1, 2011 11:44PM
The facts: 8, CSN, 720-AM.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is garnering plenty of praise — as seen in the NHL naming him the “First Star” of February on Tuesday — for the torrid streak he has been on since Jan. 25.
No player in the NHL has more points than Toews since then. But Toews — being consistent in his team-first, only-winning-matters approach — prefers to look at all the good things his teammates are doing.
“All four lines are bringing something when they’re out there,” said Toews, who has six goals and 17 assists in 14 games since Jan. 25. “No one is really playing huge minutes up front, and that makes it a lot easier for some of our offensive guys to go out there and really use their speed and keep their energy, especially late in games.
“When you’ve got all four lines rolling like that, it helps a lot. It keeps your legs fresh.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at the Hawks’ current lines, which Toews credits for the team’s surge in the Western Conference standings:
Patrick Sharp—Jonathan Toews—Patrick Kane
Back check: This line has been the Hawks’ saving grace the past few seasons. When in doubt and things have hit a rough patch, putting Toews back together with the Patricks is the best option. Coach Joel Quenneville might split them up to balance out offensive players at times, but when they’re together they are a force. All three players have been producing lately.
Key number: 20 – the total amount of points the trio has during the Hawks’ five-game winning streak, which includes eight goals.
Quote: “That line is probably one of the best in the league. It seems like they get a ton of chances every night. That line in total is playing really well.” – goalie Corey Crawford
Bryan Bickell—Dave Bolland—Marian Hossa
Back check: Any line with Bolland is assigned the “checking” role, and that’s how it’s been for the second line. It’s not an ideal spot for an offensive force like Hossa, but he’s one of the best two-way forwards in the game when healthy. Having a true center with Hossa also has helped. Bickell has developed into a decent check-first winger after being a grinder in the past.
Key number: Four – the number of games Hossa has scored in a row .
Quote: “That line they get a lot of quality ice time. When they can outscore the opposition or play even, they’re doing their job.” –- Quenneville
Michael Frolik—Jake Dowell—Troy Brouwer
Back check: This line has been the least productive of the four, but it hasn’t been awful. Frolik has had numerous chances at breaking his goal drought, and once that happens, things might turn in all their favor. Frolik’s skill – and back-checking – are a noticeable upgrade from Jack Skille. Dowell’s defensive abilities are better than his offensive skills, but he aspires to be a shutdown center
Key number: 0 – the trio has been held without a point during the Hawks’ five-game winning streak.
Quote: “We’re sustaining the momentum of the game. [All lines have] been doing some good things offensively and defensively. I like the balance of our group.” -- Quenneville
Viktor Stalberg—Ryan Johnson—Tomas Kopecky
Back check: After some OK stints among the top six, Kopecky has returned to a role he excelled in last season. Johnson has been a key signing, especially after the Hawks failed to acquire another centermen. He’s bolstered the penalty kill and helped with faceoffs. Kopecky still sees time on the first power-play unit, becoming a pain in front of opposing goalies. Stalberg has played with Kane and Toews in the past, so this group has potential.
Key number: 5 -- the current and longest stretch of consecutive games Johnson has been in the Hawks lineup this season, which coincides with their five-game winning streak.
Quote: “It took [Johnson] a little bit to get up to speed. He joined us in the middle of December. Now, he’s in that mid-season form so to speak. It was important that we picked him up.” – general manager Stan Bowman