DETROIT -- The pressure is always there for a hockey team’s top guys: you’re there to lead by example, play an all-around game and, of course, score.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is hardly immune to that pressure. It’s his job; he knows that. And nobody wants to see his offense start clicking more than he does.
Toews’ defense has been its usual strong self through a postseason series plus. But offensively, he’s still struggling. He has no goals and just three assists through seven games, and Toews knows that has to change.
“I always (feel the pressure to score); maybe a little added pressure in this situation. It’s one of those things I have to keep working, keep trying to find ways to score,” he said. “Eventually it’s going to come. Right now, I’m not letting it build up too much in my mind. Sometimes you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game goes downhill. I’m not letting that happen. But sooner or later, something’s got to give. Hopefully I’ll find a way to contribute in a big way soon.”
Regarding Game 2, coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t going to single out Toews.
“Johnny was like a lot of our guys last game: we all need to be better,” he said. “We have to be more predictable in our game and better in certain areas, not just Johnny. Everybody has to collectively chip in.”
The Blackhawks’ top line overall hasn’t been chipping in like it did during the regular season. Marian Hossa’s the exception, as he has four goals and three assists in seven games. But the spotlight is obviously going to be on any Blackhawks star who’s struggling. Toews was especially frustrated after Game 2, when Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg played stifling defense on him.
That night, Toews felt there were some high hits in that game that should’ve been penalized. On Monday he said, “it is what it is, it’s over. Things like that won’t frustrate me; you have to work through that and, maybe dish it back once in a while.”
Toews said he’ll just continue to put in the work, and keep the negative thoughts out of his mind.
“I feel like I’ve been in situations before where you go a stretch without scoring. Anyone would start to doubt (himself) a little bit. But there’s no time for that,” he said. “There are a lot of ways I can help my team out. I’m really focused on that, and I’ve been patient. You have to be. Something’s going to work for you. You just have to let it come to you, in a certain degree. The more you force things the rest of your game can deteriorate.”