Toews: Pressure on Hawks to make a run

Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks couldn't escape the Coyotes last season. Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Jonathan Toews said Friday the Chicago Blackhawks will be under more pressure to make a deep playoff run this season after being eliminated in the first round the past two seasons.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Blackhawks lost to the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011 and to the Phoenix Coyotes in six games in 2012.

“Regardless of our situation with this weird setup with this season, the way things have gone the last two years I think we’re looking at being a little more under the microscope, little more under pressure to perform and especially do well when the playoffs come this year,” Toews said on “Carmen, Jurko & Harry” on ESPN 1000. “There’s things that you learn from losing in the first round to Vancouver two years ago and last year. No one saw it coming to lose in six games against Phoenix.

“But now is the time to learn from those experiences and really understand why that happened and put our best foot forward and go make this happen this year.”

Toews, the Hawks’ captain, thinks they need to look themselves in the mirror and make some changes.

“You look at the first-round exits last year from teams like Vancouver and Pittsburgh and teams like ourselves as well,” Toews said. “A lot of skilled teams, but if you’re not willing to do the little things from your star players, top to bottom, to your role players, if they don’t all play with that accountable mentality you’re not going to go very far. That’s one of those things we’re really going to reiterate in the locker room this year.”

Toews said the Blackhawks will also turn their focus to their special teams. They ranked 27th in penalty kill percentage and 26th in power play percentage last season.

“A new beginning,” Toews said. “Scrape what happened last year and start over. We just got to work hard at those two parts of our game right off the bat and find a way to have success early and carry that confidence and keep getting better as the season goes along.

“We know how important it is to have a good penalty kill and power play. When it comes to some of those tight games, that could be the difference for us. That’s something we’re definitely going to focus on. I think everyone knows that.”