Numbers show defense at center of Jonathan Toews’ game
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com June 25, 2013 9:56PM
Jonathan Toews, Bryan Bickell
Every intangible edge that made the Blackhawks champions in 2010 came into play in 2013. But the two most prominent ones put them over the top — their ability to respond to the urgency of the moment, and the uncanniness of Jonathan Toews.
Down 2-1 in the final 90 seconds of Game 6 against the Bruins on Monday and seemingly destined for Game 7 at the United Center, Toews’ legendary — and very real — will to win made the difference. He perfectly threaded a pass between Zdeno Chara’s legs to Bryan Bickell to set up the tying goal with 1:16 left, and momentum did the rest. Dave Bolland’s goal 17 seconds later gave the Hawks a 3-2 victory that clinched their second Cup in four seasons.
It was a fitting conclusion to an eventful postseason for Toews, who wasn’t the factor in this playoff run that he was in 2013 — at least not on paper — when he had 29 points in 22 games and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the postseason.
Toews also scored the Hawks’ first goal in Game 6 on Monday on a wrist shot that made it clear he should have been taking more of them in the playoffs. But he does his own thing, and it’s hard to blame him. Everything he touches eventually turns to gold.
Toews scored 23 goals in 47 regular-season games but only three in 23 playoff games. But unlike in 2010, when he had 25 points in a 13-game stretch before going quiet in the Final, he finished strong. Toews had two goals, three assists and a plus-5 rating in the final three games, all victories.
The modest point totals obscured Toews’ overall excellence. He finished the 2013 playoffs with a plus-9 rating. When he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2010, he was minus-1 for the playoffs and minus-4 in the last three games of the Final.
The Hawks’ captain can’t live on plus-minus alone, but his offensive production in the final three games of the 2013 playoffs sheds a new light on his defensive performance earlier in the postseason.
It’s no coincidence that Toews outproduced every key player he went up against. The Wild’s Mikko Koivu was pointless and minus-6 against the Blackhawks. Linemate Zach Parise scored one goal and was minus-7. The Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were even against the Blackhawks. The Kings’ Anze Kopitar had one goal and was minus-3 against the Blackhawks. Linemate Dustin Brown, who was plus-5 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, was minus-3 against Toews and the Blackhawks.
But, wait, there’s more: The Bruins’ David Krejci came into the Stanley Cup Final with nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points and a plus-14 rating. He scored no goals and had five assists with a minus-1 rating against Toews and the Hawks. Nathan Horton came in with a playoff-best plus-21 rating, but he had no goals and two points and was minus-1 against the Hawks. Milan Lucic scored four goals and had six points but also was minus-1. All three members of the hottest line in the playoffs (19 goals, 51 points in 16 games through the first three rounds) were minus-3 in the last two games of the Final.
‘‘I said coming into this series that I was setting my personal agenda aside, and I wasn’t going to let a lack of success bother me and take me away from staying with my work ethic and trying to contribute any way I can for this team,’’ Toews said during the on-ice celebration Monday at TD Garden. ‘‘You gotta stay positive, and the goals are going to come at the right time. I’d like to think that they did.’’