After an abysmal start, the Chicago Blackhawks have regained their footing and are playing some pretty good hockey. They have won five of their last seven and four straight since replacing Jeremy Colliton as coach. Most of this good fortune has come on the backs of improved defensive play, strong goal tending and terrific play from Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat.
Over the last seven games, Kane has notched 12 points, including five goals (only 12 games played). DeBrincat has scored five goals as well on his way to seven points. Their linemate, Kirby Dach, however, has not fared so well. Dach has but two points during this stretch and six total points over 16 games. Playing center between two elite goal scorers should lend itself to more points for Dach. It simply isn’t happening.
To make matters worse, Dach, who is a large, solid center at 6’4″, 200 lbs, should be a dominate force on the ice. That hasn’t happened. In that same seven game stretch, Dach has four games with no hits. He must me aggressive and do the dirty work to allow the Cat and Kane freedom to score.
Finally, Dach’s face off percentage is absolutely horrid. Looking at the same seven game stretch as above, Dach had only one game over 50% at the dot. In his last five games, Dach wins were: 3 for 15, 2 for 8, 4 for 12, 1 for 9 and 1 for 5. The center of your elite line better be able to win face offs. Winning the puck for your scorers allows for greater success and keeps them off the defensive end.
Enter Jonathan Toews. Since his return, Toews has not regained his previous level of success. However, he seems to be improving as the season goes on. In the previous seven games, Toews has five points, much of that time playing alongside Dominik Kubalik and Jhujar Khaira. Neither of those players are elite passers or elite scorers, and they aren’t going to help put Toews on the tally sheet. One could argue Kubalik is a scorer but he relies on those around him to set him up. He isn’t a natural scorer like Kane and DeBrincat.
To seal the deal, Toews is on fire a the face off dot this year. In his 16 games, Toews has been over 60% ten times, and only below 50% once. That efficiency at the dot, playing between Kane and DeBrincat, will insure that the Hawks maximize their chances on offense.
Finally, not only will this help Kane and DeBrincat, but it will help Toews complete his journey back. He will get support on both wings that he is not getting now. He can still battle on the boards, reek havoc in front of the net, and win those needed face offs. The move will be a win-win.
Playing Dylan Strome on the first line is certainly another option, and a move that would likely see success, but playing Jonathan Toews there would serve two purposes. Time for King to make the move.
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