Sunday, February 12, 2017

Blackhawks, Toews, Head Into "Bye Week" Feeling Good

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)

The Chicago Blackhawks had a daunting task heading into this week with road games in Minnesota (who they had lost their last 8 games against), Winnipeg (who have beaten them 4 straight times this year), and Edmonton (where they were beaten soundly, 5-0, in November).

The results?  Three road wins that leave the Blackhawks with a 5-game winning streak and a week off before they play the Oilers, again, on Saturday, 2/18.  It's odd to have a full week before your next game, but that is what the Hawks have been dealt.

Going into those three games this last week, the Hawks knew they wanted to make a statement with these teams that have man-handled them as of late, and they did so.  On Wednesday, the Hawks had to take the Wild to overtime before Jonathan Toews came through with the game-winner.  On Friday, the Hawks used a strong third period to take down the Jets, 5-2.  Saturday, the Hawks controlled the pace after giving up the first goal of the game by scoring the last five, in a 5-1 win in Edmonton.

The Wild still hold a five point lead over the Hawks with two games in hand, but the team is still focused on somehow catching the Wild or to finish as high as they can in the Conference.  They currently hold a 12-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division.  They know that there is definitely room for improvement, but this will be a nice rest for the players, especially those that went to the All-Star game.

The Blackhawks have played tight games all season.  They lead the league in one-goal decisions (32 games, 20-7-5) in 57 games.  With having won their last two games, on the road, by a combined total of 10-3, is encouraging for a team that has struggled, but found ways to win throughout the year.

A big reason for the surge lately by the Hawks has been the point production of their Captain, Jonathan Toews.  After a very slow start, (22 points in 39 games), he has tallied 13 points in his last 9 games.  His next point will be his 600th of his career (262 G, 337 A).

Some questioned that he may be ailing from an early season injury, or that missing someone consistent on his left side of his line is the cause for the lack of production, but Toews has had slow ruts in his career before, and like now, is starting to heat up.  He has taken 31.1% of the entire teams faceoffs this year and has won 57.1% of them.  A stat that goes unnoticed, but plays a big role in puck control and draws won in your own zone that do not result in goals against.

With Toews getting hot, along with Patrick Kane (9 points in last 5 games - 4G 5A), and a rest of a full week, the Hawks are feeling good about what they did this last week and what is to come.  Time to heal and refuel for the last leg of the season and the quest to drink again from Lord Stanley's Cup.


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