The Chicago Blackhawks shocked the hockey world by beating the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, as they make their way into the First Round.
When the 12th seed Chicago Blackhawks were matched up against the 5th place Edmonton Oilers, many assumed that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl would pick up where they left off and continue dominating.
However, Chicago had other plans. Led by captain Jonathan Toews, their effort was unmatched as they collectively accomplished more than the Oilers were able to. The Blackhawks went on to win the best-of-5 and only needed four games to do so.
Edmonton enjoyed some magical performances from their captain throughout this battle, Toews was simply more effective at getting the most out of his crew. He also put himself in a position to produce alongside them.
This should come as no surprise to anyone that follows this team or Toews, more specifically. He is a leader that shows up, game in and game out, and even put together a good year amidst less than desirable team results.
Throughout their post-season series, both Toews and McDavid accumulated similar stats in several categories, ultimately highlighting just how important both of these players are to their respective rosters.
McDavid produced at a slightly higher rate, but had an increased opportunity to do so with additional ice time. Here’s how their point totals compare.
However, Toews was far and ahead in a few pretty key areas when it comes to leading a team. As a captain, there are aspects of the game that need to be managed which aren’t always as exciting or alluring as what appears on a standard stat line.
Then again, Toews didn’t shy away from impacting those either.
There is no question that McDavid is an undisputed superstar in this league and put on quite the show through this play-in round. Toews simply proved why he’s the superior captain.
If you’re the leader of a team, actions speak louder than words. To get the most out of a lineup, one needs to show them what that means. Toews doesn’t shy away from putting himself into a position to protect his team and their scoreboard.
His 35 blocks throughout this series, as compared to McDavid’s 18, says a lot about his ability to maintain a two-way presence and pressure in his game.
The game is certainly cleaning up for the better, in an effort to avoid serious injury, but that doesn’t mean physicality isn’t still necessary. Players have to be willing to go to battle, sometimes quite literally, to help elevate their team.
Toews accumulated 56 hits through four games in this series and McDavid landed 37. An important, although subtle, distinction in illustrating the hunger to win.
Controlling any part of the game starts in the faceoff circle. Toews has been one of the best in the league throughout his career at this task, which has continually helped propel the Blackhawks into making plays they otherwise couldn’t.
McDavid won 47.8% of his draws in the series, whereas Toews maintained his dominance achieving a 57.3% success rate. Toews simply made more possible for his team.
He elevates his effectiveness as a captain of this organization with actions. We know he’s a motivating force for this franchise, but he also demands respect with his constant battle, work ethic, and production.
Toews will certainly be front and centre through any further success the Blackhawks look to achieve throughout the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He’ll set the tone and it’s then up to his teammates to maintain that rhythm.
Up next, in the First Round, is the captainless Vegas Golden Knights. Some may argue that supports a more collective mentoring approach, but the Blackhawks have that too. Chicago simply owns the added advantage of Jonathan Toews leading their way.