We can quickly get a comparison for the production of the top line from Toews’ wingers, Brandon Saad and Richard Panik. Let’s start with Panik, who was Toews’ line mate a season ago as well as this year.
Panik started the first nine games a season ago blistering hot. He had nine points on six goals and three assists. Most notably, he had only 12 shots on goal in this stretch, meaning every other shot he took in the first nine games found the back of the net. That shooting percentage was obviously unsustainable and Panik could not keep that crazy pace up all season. He ended up with an even 22 goals and 22 assists on the year.
This season, Panik is only a goal worse than last season’s start; he has five goals and three assists. But the trend that is very nice to see is that he has taken 23 shots thus far this year. While you may be thinking it is bad to see more shots on goal and less points, it is a more realistic shooting percentage to play out for the whole year and shows that Panik has actually been able to produce some more offensive chances this season compared to last year.
Comparing Saad’s production is two-fold. First, let’s look at Saad’s numbers alone. Thus far this year, Saad has six goals and two assists and 28 shots on goal. A season ago, in Columbus, Saad’s first nine games saw three goals and five assists and 24 shots on goal. The production between Columbus and Chicago is very comparable, but what does this mean as far as being Jonathan Toews’ line mate again?
Last season, Marian Hossa was featured most as Toews’ left winger. In Hossa’s first nine games a season ago, he tallied three goals and four assists along with 26 shots in the first nine games of the year. Saad only has one more point than Hossa this year compared to last, but we can see there hasn’t been a significant drop from Hossa to Saad. In fact, the first line has been finding more success to start off the year when combining all three members.
All together, Saad, Toews, and Panik have combined for 14 goals, 10 assists, and 76 shots on goal in nine games. Hossa, Toews, and Panik, by comparison, had 10 goals, 11 assists, and 62 shots on goal in the first nine games of 2016-17.
If we break this down even further, we can look at the difference in their numbers at even-strength. Saad, Toews, and Panik have nine goals and eight assists at even strength. A year ago, Hossa, Toews, and Panik had four goals and five assists at even strength in the first nine games.