Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: What to Make of the Resurgence of Jonathan Toews

By Juliana Nikac
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals in the third period at the United Center on January 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals in the third period at the United Center on January 20, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 22: Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal with teammaetes in game action during the second period of a NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders on January 22, 2019 at the United Center, in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 22: Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates his goal with teammaetes in game action during the second period of a NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders on January 22, 2019 at the United Center, in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Statistics

Taking a look at most of the statistics, Jonathan Toews hasn’t had dramatic changes in his numbers since his career began in 2007. He’s maintained a Corsi-for percentage of at least 50 every season, which basically translates to him having puck possession more often than the opposing team when he’s on the ice. Not counting the lockout-shortened season in 2013, Toews has never recorded less than 50 points.

What led to two rough seasons in a row for Toews was his significant drop in shooting percentage. A career 14.2% shooter, he only managed to score on 10.4% of his shots in 2016-2017 and just 9.5% of his shots in 2017-2018. According to Evolving Hockey, Toews’s individual expected goals last season was 24.04 and he only scored 20.

This season, he’s managing to convert on 17.2% of the shots he takes. He hasn’t been that lucky since his sophomore season when he shot 17.4%. And while some might say this pace isn’t sustainable, Toews is managing to still score at a 35-goal pace. His 22 goals so far this season greatly surpasses his individual expected goals of 16.27 thanks to a 7.7% increase in shooting percentage.

Basically, Jonathan Toews had terrible luck for two seasons in a row and now his luck is good again.

Let’s say Toews did shoot 14.2% in the last two seasons before this one. He would’ve scored around 28 goals in 2016-2017 and around 30 goals in 2017-2018. Those numbers are what’s normal for him. Prior to last season, his lowest total for goals scored in an 82-game season was 25 in 2009-2010.

And if his assists totals stayed the same (37 in 16-17 and 32 in 17-18), he would’ve recorded 65 points and 62 points in those two seasons, respectively. No one would’ve batted an eye at those numbers.

Another thing to remember is Toews struggled with some minor injuries over the course of the last two years, too. These issues led him to miss 10 games in 2016-2017 and eight games last season. Had he not missed any games, he would’ve scored around 66 and 57 points, respectively. His 2017-2018 season still would’ve been abnormal for Toews, but not something for anyone to seriously worry about.

This is a guy who averages around 26 goals and 34 assists each season. The assists didn’t veer off Toews’s normal numbers that much (37 in 2016-17 and 32 in 2017-2018) but his point totals looked worse because of his lack of goal scoring. Bad luck and lower-than-usual statistics can mask all the positives of a player and lead fans to only focus on the negatives. Broadly speaking, that’s what happened to Jonathan Toews.

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