Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be

345162.jpg

Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011Posted: 7:50 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

When the Blackhawks entered the first intermission down 2-0 in St. Louis on Monday, Jonathan Toews did what any good captain should. He made some noise. He barked, he pointed some things out and probably used a few choice words in the process.

Maybe I got after the boys a little too much but we saw how the guys responded to it, Toews said after the Blackhawks rallied to a 5-3 victory. Thats whats frustrating. We say what we have to do before the game and then we play that way the first 20 minutes. That was unacceptable.

Thats great that Toews talk can move the Blackhawks to Mondays outcome. Motivating is his job, or at least the inside-the-locker-room part of it. But at this point of the season, with whats at stake, he shouldnt have to.

The Blackhawks finally found their urgency in the second period on Monday, 20 minutes after they shouldve had it. They fought back. They scored in bunches. They got points from 10 different players. And most importantly, they won. Once again, the get-them-going onus fell on their captain.

The 22-year-old shoulders the weight well. Given his start-to-finish work ethic in games, combined with that C he wears on his sweater, Toews is the perfect candidate to throw a few verbal daggers at his underperforming teammates.

But the Blackhawks should start listening at games start, not 20 or more minutes into it. And they shouldnt have to look to their captain at intermission for vocal inspiration. If they want motivation, all they have to do is look at the standings. They should make a copy of them, tack them to the board prior to every game and circle their position with a big red Sharpie (pen, not Patrick). Eleventh. Entering Tuesday nights games, the defending Stanley Cup champions are 11th in the West.

Now with a couple more victories, the Blackhawks could move from outer edge of the playoffs to right in the middle of the pack again. Yes, welcome to the ridiculous Western Conference. Theres more motivation. So was that come-from-behind victory in St. Louis on Monday. From the second period on it was great hockey. The Blackhawks pushed the pace, got all their lines involved and took advantage of Blues miscues.

Toews said Monday that the leaders in this locker room held the rest of the team accountable. Hopefully that means he wasnt the only guy talking during the first period. There are a few remaining in that room that went to the pinnacle, know what it takes to get there and wants to stoke the fire in others, too.

Theyve got 22 games remaining to conjure up that consistent hockey that was so much a part of them last season and has been so absent this one. Theyve shown at times. Now they have to put it together in a good, solid string. Theyve got it in them.

But from here on out, the Blackhawks shouldnt need Toews to make a mid-game motivational speech off the ice. They should just follow his lead from the start on it.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Arizona Coyotes was the first game the current top line of Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik were thrown together.

Yeah, the combination's worked out well. So has the Blackhawks' game in general, as they've won seven of eight including that Feb. 2 game. Now the Blackhawks will try to keep the momentum rolling with their lines and their game when they host the Coyotes Thursday night at the United Center.

The Blackhawks' current run of success started in the desert and part of that has been finding more consistent lines. Everything else has gradually improved off of that, from goal scoring to puck possession.

"I think it's puck possession, puck control, pace to the game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we were very inconsistent in that early and we were defending way more than we were accustomed to. You're vulnerable for penalties, you're vulnerable for quality scoring chances against and not generating enough. I think that's the progression in our game now, it seems like all four lines are having the puck and having some zone time and having some rush chances, zone chances and it seems like every line's contributing there, and that's the big difference."

[RELATED: By the bye - Blackhawks keep rolling following break]

The Blackhawks' top line didn't have immediate chemistry but Quenneville kept them together and let them work on it. But as Toews said, it was about the group keeping the all-around game going, points or no points.

"Sometimes you just gotta work until things start clicking," Toews said. "Everyone seems to start paying attention when you start scoring goals, regardless of [the fact you're] doing things right. It's nice that we're scoring but we have to stick with what's making us a successful line at both ends of the rink right now."

Corey Crawford will start vs. the Coyotes. Niklas Hjalmarsson did not skate this morning but is expected to play. Quenneville said Michal Rozsival could draw into the lineup.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Rozsival-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

None

Coyotes lines (via Arizona Republic)

Tobias Rieder-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Brendan Perlini-Christian Dvorak-Shane Doan
Max Domi -Alex Burmistrov-Ryan White
Jamie McGinn-Jordan Martinook-Josh Jooris

Defensive pairs

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski-Anthony DeAngelo
Jakob Chychrun-Connor Murphy

Goaltender

Mike Smith

Injuries

Lawson Crouse (lower body), Brad Richardson (tibia)

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks tangle with Coyotes, Bulls ready for trade deadline

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks tangle with Coyotes, Bulls ready for trade deadline

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Coyotes tonight on CSN

Fred Hoiberg's message to Bulls at trade deadline: Control what you can control

Kris Bryant: Major League Baseball could be going down 'slippery slope' with rules changes

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

Lighter Avisail Garcia wants to show White Sox his best

Woj: Bulls still pushing for Jahlil Okafor trade with Philadelphia 76ers

Could a late-season surge miraculously get Illini into NCAA tournament?

After winter of taking heat, Cubs still have Joe Maddon's back

Todd Frazier out with left oblique strain

Fire Talk Podcast Episode 1: Recapping the Fire's offseason and looking ahead to 2017