ANAHEIM, Calif. — Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was frustrated by the dip in his production the last two seasons, which brought questions about whether he was in decline.
He spent last offseason working to change that, and the mission has been a success.
Toews entered the Hawks’ game Wednesday against the Ducks with 29 goals and 35 assists and is on pace for the best offensive season of his 12-year career.
‘‘He’s been excellent,’’ coach Jeremy Colliton said at the morning skate. ‘‘He’s so strong on the puck and so strong down low. [He] takes the puck to the net, [and] he’s willing to do the dirty work both offensively and defensively.
‘‘His leadership capabilities are huge for our group. It’s nice to look down your lineup and see his name.’’
Toews barely reached 20 goals each of the last two seasons after averaging nearly 28 in the nine seasons before that and had a career-low 52 points last season.
He’s on track for 37 goals, which would surpass the career-high 34 he scored in 2008-09. He also will set a career high with 83 points if he continues his current pace.
Toews slipped into a minor slump in early January but turned it around heading into the All-Star break. He had 22 points in his last 14 games entering play Wednesday and was third in the NHL in goals (11) during that span.
The Hawks’ push from the bottom of the league to the thick of the Western Conference wild-card hunt hit a rough patch last weekend with losses to the Avalanche and Stars, but Colliton said he thought their overall play was good.
If the Hawks can keep playing at that level, he said he likes their chances of sneaking into a playoff spot. He also wants players who will stay calm amid the chaos in the standings, where the Hawks swung from a brief hold on the second wild-card berth to six points out as they headed west.
‘‘It’s not going to happen overnight, us getting where we want to go, so we can’t worry about the [standings],’’ Colliton said. ‘‘We understand important games happen around the league that affect us, but we can’t do anything about it.
‘‘Emotionally, you’ve gotta stay on an even keel. It’s the same thing in the playoffs. Can’t look too far ahead, can’t be worried about what happened before. Just do your job, take care of your own performance.’’
Players such as Toews and wing Patrick Kane might not need to hear that message, but the Hawks have nine players who never have been to the playoffs.
A little bit of history
Wing Alex DeBrincat scored his sixth goal in the last five games on a power play in the first minute of the second period. It was his 35th of the season and enabled him to join Jeremy Roenick, Bobby Hull and Steve Larmer as Hawks to score 35 goals in a season at age 21 or younger. DeBrincat added his 36th — fourth in the NHL — with five minutes left in the third.