LOS ANGELES — There’s something endearing about Jonathan Toews’ sudden penchant for picking fights — a star player handling his own business instead of hiding behind a so-called enforcer. There’s also something entertaining about it — how unlikely and bizarre it is that the Blackhawks captain is suddenly dropping the gloves on a regular basis.
But there’s also something alarming about it. The last thing the Hawks need is for Toews to get himself hurt after the whistle.
“I don’t know if he’s enjoying that or what,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “But it’s not what we want.”
An incensed Toews tried to get longtime nemesis Ryan Kesler to fight him Friday afternoon in Anaheim, but Kesler was hesitant at first, giving the referees time to break it up before it happened. It would have been Toews’ third fight in three weeks, after he threw down with New Jersey’s Adam Henrique and another familiar rival, St. Louis’ David Backes. Toews had just three fights in his first eight seasons.
“I’m not sure what really happened there,” Patrick Kane said after the Ducks game. “It looked like a lot of slashing going on there to Jonny’s hands, and things like that. Jonny’s a competitive guy and wants to stick up for himself.”
Kero back in
Rookie Tanner Kero has carved out a nice niche for himself as a solid checking-line player and penalty-killer for the Hawks, so it was a mild surprise when he was scratched Friday to make room for the returning Teuvo Teravainen. Kero was back in the lineup on Saturday, with Marko Dano likely the odd-man out of the lineup.
“We’ve got to make decisions sometimes,” Quenneville said. “Some guys might not be deserving of coming out, but we don’t mind having to make those tough [decisions].”
Kero said it’s “never easy” to handle being scratched, but that Quenneville told him Friday to be ready to play against the Kings.
“I’m starting to get a little more comfortable — comfortable with the systems, and a little more confident out there,” Kero said. “I just need to focus on playing really well defensively, and get on the penalty kill, and hope to get as many chances as I can, and earn their trust that way.”
Mash it up
Brandon Mashinter has played all eight games since being called up by the Hawks, and was slated to be in the lineup again on Saturday. And while he’s playing a limited role on the fourth line, averaging less than seven minutes a night, Quenneville has liked what he’s seen.
“I don’t mind what he’s brought to our team,” he said. “He’s given us some energy, he looks quicker out there, and his forechecking’s been noticeable. He’s been useful.”