Blackhawks: Three keys to success for Jonathan Toews in 2021
By Jimmy Lynch
The Chicago Blackhawks’ 2021 season is just two months away if everything goes right. Today, let’s look at the three keys to success for Jonathan Toews this coming season.
Everyone on the Blackhawks has a lot to prove this coming season, including Jonathan Toews. Toews showed up for the Blackhawks in the playoffs this past season, and he showed why he is one of the best leaders in the game. That might explain why he was a little frustrated earlier this offseason with the moves the ‘Hawks were making.
Chicago needs Jonathan Toews – it is that simple. If Chicago wants to come out on the other side of a rebuild ready to win another championship in three or four years, they need the captain still fighting for the group.
Toews is one of the most premier leaders in the NHL. A few years ago, he was compared to Crosby, and he arguably is a better captain. So, Chicago will need their captain at his best this coming season, especially considering Dylan Strome remains unsigned.
Let’s break down the three keys to success for Jonathan Toews. The entire roster needs to be better, but Toews can do his part in these three areas.
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Key 1: Be The Captain
Chicago’s captain has never aired his frustrations about the Blackhawks moves as much as he did this offseason. While it was justified, it did raise a few alarm bells about whether or not the core group of Blackhawks is committed to the new direction the ‘Hawks are taking.
Coming into a new season, hopefully, Toews can put those kinds of doubts to rest and be the leader he has been for the past decade. This season will undoubtedly prove challenging for the ‘Hawks, and the core group can’t add to the issues.
If Chicago decides to go with the young players with a minute to go in a one-goal game instead of putting out Toews, Kane, and Keith, we can’t see the leaders’ frustration. Similar situation for the power play and penalty kill. Toews and company need to help push this next generation of ‘Hawks to be the best they can be because their future success depends on it.
Key 2: Be a faceoff machine
Toews won 856 faceoffs this past season, the most out of any center on the team. His faceoff percentage of 57.3 is second to none on the roster unless you want to count John Quenneville‘s 75 percent in the faceoff dot, but he only took four faceoffs.
Chicago is yet to find a real number two center that can be a force in the dot. Kirby Dach will get a few more years to progress, but he has not been useful in the faceoff dot just yet, and neither has Dylan Strome.
Toews has been the face of the ‘Hawks, and he has been the center of this team for a long time. Toews has more face-off wins than any other player, and he is taking most of this team’s faceoffs.
To put how important Toews is for Chicago in perspective, Chicago won 1964 faceoffs this past season. Toews won 43.5 percent of those faceoffs. Taking the faceoff gives your team possession of the puck, and for a young team trying to figure out the future and grow, having the puck will make things a little easier.
Key 3: Flexibility with linemates
Trading Brandon Saad hurts Jonathan Toews. Toews and Saad were linemates this past season and have been for the better part of the past few seasons. Saad has spent time in the bottom six, but when it came to the penalty kill, Toews and Saad were reunited all season to help the team win.
Toews will have to be patient with Colliton and the front office as they try and find his next linemate. I am sure Dominik Kubalik and Toews will be together again this coming season, but he needs another linemate. Is Alex Nylander going to get another shot with Toews, or maybe Pius Suter?
Maybe if Andrew Shaw comes back healthy, he can fill in on the top line for a while next season. Honestly, it is anyone’s guess right now. Patrick Kane has always been a player that can handle shifting linemates and finding a way to succeed with anyone on the ice, but Toews has not seen the same luck.
Toews did not have the best season last year, but his postseason performance showed that he can still be useful in high danger situations when the season is on the line. Hopefully, we will see more of captain serious at his best next season!