Statistically speaking, Jonathan Toews is in a massive scoring slump. The Blackhawks center has just one goal in his last 14 games, a stretch that dates all the way back to the circus trip in late November.
But unlike his scoring drought last spring, in which he went 20 playoff games with just one goal, Toews isn’t frustrated. Isn’t angry, either. And he certainly isn’t panicking. That’s because the Hawks are winning, and Toews’ line has plenty to do with it. Patrick Sharp, his left wing, has 10 goals in that span. Marian Hossa, his right wing, has four goals. And the Hawks have scored 15 power-play goals during the stretch, as well.
It’s not that Toews — who has nine assists in the 14 games — is struggling to score. Or that he doesn’t want to score. It’s that he doesn’t need to right now.
“I could probably shoot the puck more, but I think there are a lot of times where I know those two guys are going to be open, and I’m trying to get them the puck as much as I can,” Toews said Friday morning as the Hawks returned from Christmas break ready for back-to-back games against the Avalanche and Blues. “If we score as a line, that’s the important thing.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville hardly sounded worried about his captain’s scoring woes, pointing out that he’s always been a streaky scorer while remaining a consistent presence on the ice — as a defender and as a playmaker.
“Jonny goes in stretches where it’s going in for him,” Quenneville said. “Whether he’s getting assists or goals or neutralizing top guys on the other team, he’s always contributing to the team game. I think everybody has stretches where they go in the net a little easier than other times. I’m sure he’ll have some stretches where it keeps going in. We hope so.”
Toews said he could stand to be more aggressive to get out of his slump.
“I’d like to be able to find a way to get back on the scoresheet that way, and get that confidence back,” he said. “I tell Hoss and Sharpie to shoot the puck whenever they get the chance, and we’ll get rebounds and second opportunities if they don’t go in. I’ve got to start thinking the same way.”
— Antti Raanta will make his eighth straight start tonight vs. Colorado, and likely will start again Saturday in St. Louis.
— Corey Crawford worked out on the ice before the morning skate and has made “real good progress,” according to Quenneville. Crawford might travel with the team to St. Louis, but will not play.
— Because of the mandated three-day Christmas break, the Avalanche had to travel to Chicago on Friday morning, and didn’t get a morning skate. After three days off, the Hawks think that could play to their advantage. “I think it’s huge,” Andrew Shaw said after the Hawks’ skate. “I think we needed it — get some kinks out, get a nice sweat and get prepared for tonight’s game.”