Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
Jonathan Toews was a shutdown forward for the Chicago Blackhawks in their first-round series against the Minnesota Wild, but he was a major disappointment offensively.
The Blackhawks captain failed to score a goal in the five games versus Minnesota and didn't tally his first points (two assists) of the series until the Game 5 clincher last Thursday.
To beat the rival Detroit Red Wings in the second round, Chicago needs Toews to not only score goals, but also create more scoring opportunities for linemates Marian Hossa and rookie Brandon Saad.
Luckily for the Blackhawks, the second round is normally when Toews heats up and produces more offensively (16 points in 12 career Western Semifinals games), and Chicago needs this trend to continue against a physical Red Wings team with a goaltender in Jimmy Howard who was fantastic in his team's upset of the high-scoring Anaheim Ducks in seven games.
Defensively, Toews was outstanding in the first round. His assignment was to prevent the Wild's top line, which included elite forwards Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, from dominating offensively. These two stars combined for one goal, zero assists and a minus-13 rating through five games, and without much scoring from these top-six forwards, the Wild had no chance of upsetting the Blackhawks.
Toews' excellent work on defense with physical play and constant pressure played a huge part in Parise and Koivu's lack of success in the attacking zone.
Even though he made a small impact offensively in the first round, there is no reason for Blackhawks fans to be concerned about Toews moving forward. He's an elite player with Stanley Cup-winning experience who will make the necessary adjustments to improve.