Jonathan Toews knows 22 games without a regulation loss to open a season is impressive. He also knows it won't matter if the Blackhawks aren't competitive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a few months.
Appearing on SportsTalk Live on Comcast SportsNet Monday, the Blackhawks captain said his team's run to open the lockout-shortened 2013 season is important because it could be the key to a championship.
"This year, this whole streak thing could be the thing that gives us the confidence that we need to believe in ourselves, that we're that type of team and we have that potential," Toews explained. "It is an exciting thing, but we know that if we don't use this confidence for something greater in the postseason, people will forget about what happened at the start of the season pretty quickly."
Still, the way the Blackhawks have charged out of the gate this winter is unprecedented in NHL history. As Toews explained, though, part of that is luck, part of that is skill and part of that is attitude.
"We are getting some breaks right now," Toews said. "It's very difficult to make it this far and have a streak go this long without getting a few lucky goals or a few bounces going your way. But for the most part, we're earning a lot of our success, we're working hard, we're getting great goaltending, we're killing penalties, our power play's been better than last year.
"It's easy for anybody to go on a four or five-game winning streak, and go out one night and you're not feeling it, you don't have your legs like you might normally have, and all of a sudden a loss becomes pretty acceptable. We haven't said that at all. We've been as hungry to win in every single game as the last one. We want to continue that way. That's a huge quality to have as a team."
Toews pointed to the play of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery as being key to the Blackhawks' success, as well as quality production from all four lines. Specifically, Toews pointed to Crawford's spectacular save on a Pavel Datsyuk shot in Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over Detroit as a standout moment from the run.
"Stops like that have kept us alive and it's kinda been the name of the game, to go 22 games without a loss in regulation you're going to need stops like that, you're going to need some big moments," Toews said. "So we're definitely getting that."
The Blackhawks have found plenty of different ways to win over the 22-game streak, be it thanks to a last-second goal in Calgary, a slew of overtime winners or Patrick Kane's heroics against Detroit. Good fortune aside, Toews sees that success as a product of the team's makeup.
"We'll win any way we can," he said. "It's great that we can win whether we're down a goal or two going into the third period. If we get up on a team we've shown we can protect leads and kill big penalties. We're showing a lot of depth. The fact that we're getting great goaltending and we're getting some huge, huge goals all over our lineup, I think it makes us a tough team to beat."