Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Reasons They’ll Make The Playoffs In 2018

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: (L-R) Brent Seabrook
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: (L-R) Brent Seabrook /
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CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 15: Jonathan Toews
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 15: Jonathan Toews /

1. Jonathan Toews isn’t done yet 

My colleague infers that Toews is no longer a superstar.  I whole-heartedly disagree with this statement.  Yes, he’s struggled the past few seasons.  But he also had his longtime partner and right-hand man taken away in Marian Hossa.  These two have had incredible success together in the past, but Coach Q’s line shuffling found them separated.

Hossa took a lot of the defensive responsibility on that top line, leaving Toews the opportunity to play more offensively.  Not to mention Hossa’s physical presence on the forecheck that would create more space for Toews.  Without him, Toews has been forced to essentially “cover” for the lack of Hossa, which has hurt his offensive production.

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Now Richard Panik plays a similar style as Hossa, and he and Toews found some chemistry together last season.  I feel they can build on that chemistry, especially if they have a strong partner on their left.

Which leads me to Brandon Saad.  No one has been able replace his imposing presence next to Toews since he left two seasons ago.   Bowman and company recognized their mistake, and they were even willing to forfeit the services of Artemi Panarin to get him back.  Saad has had two more seasons to improve his game while playing with Columbus.  Now he’s reunited with Toews, and looking forward to “doing some damage”.

Hockey is about individuals, but it’s first and foremost a team sport.  Toews is still one of the best in the league in faceoffs, and he has committed to an offseason regimen that should provide him with more speed and strength.  I predict Toews will have a resurgent season after being reunited with Saad and whomever flanks him on the right-hand side, whether it be Panik or someone else.