Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011Posted: 7:50 PM
By Tracey Myers
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.