Jonathan Toews feeling good: ‘We’re right where we want to be’

An innately team player, Jonathan Toews doesn’t revel in his reputation as a difference-maker, but he can’t totally ignore it, either.

So a year after he failed to score a goal in a 4-3 first-round series loss to the Blues, the Blackhawks’ captain acknowledged at least a bit of personal motivation to be the difference-making player he has been throughout his career. Last year’s first-round exit marked the first time Toews did not score in a playoff series the Hawks lost.

“Obviously last year, not being able to score in that round, it’s one of those things you feel like if you had one or two [goals], maybe it could have been the difference in a game or two,” said Toews, who has scored 39 goals in 124 playoff games.

But as determined as he is to make a bigger impact in the playoffs this season, Toews doesn’t want to get caught trying too hard. His work ethic has been the biggest key to his success in the playoffs, often putting him in the right place at the right time.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (battling Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in January, scored three goals and eight points in six games when the Hawks beat the Predators in the first round in 2015 (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

“I can’t be thinking about that and putting too much pressure on myself,” Toews said. “I’ve just got to play and get that feeling of [getting] that lucky bounce — you’re going to work for that bounce and you’re going to earn it.

“The more you work for things, the more they’ll go your way. It’s just [about] having that excitement, that positive feel that as individuals we all have what it takes to contribute and make the difference for our team.”

Toews is one of six Hawks players who have won three Stanley Cups under coach Joel Quenneville. He knows this is a golden opportunity for No. 4 but isn’t getting ahead of himself. He never does.

“It’s a long road to get there. It’s a long enough road to get where we are right now,” he said. “We’re happy about the way the season’s gone and where we’re at as a team. We’re right where we want to be going into the playoffs. We’re as prepared as we can be.

“I don’t think you can look that far ahead and think about winning the Cup, Toews said. It’s one shift, one period at a time and nothing more than that. You feel like you can just keep surviving no matter what and when you’re at the end, playing for the Cup, it doesn’t feel surprising that you’re there. But for now, we’ll worry about this series right now. We know it’s going to be one heck of a challenge.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

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