Toews riding wave of confidence

CHICAGO -- Confidence has made up for a lack of energy recently for Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

Toews has found his normal energy level difficult to come by since returning from Sochi, Russia, where he helped Canada win its second consecutive Olympic gold medal. But what he’s lacked in energy, he’s made up for by playing with an overflowing amount of confidence.

Toews has tapped into that confidence and used it to score five goals and distribute one assist over the last three games. The five goals are the most he’s had over a three-game stretch this season. He now has 61 points, tied for 14th in the NHL, and is just four points behind team leader Patrick Kane.

“I’m not going to lie, there’s been a couple games in the last week where physically it’s been tough to get up for that and play with the energy I've wanted to play with,” Toews said after the Blackhawks’ 6-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. “I think mostly with the speed of the game, I feel just more relaxed with the puck and confident I can hang onto it and keep making plays. The offense is going to come.

“Playing in the NHL, it’s a much more offensive game than that Olympic style. I think everyone talked about that when we were out there. I’m definitely taking some confidence away from that tournament.”

Toews wasn't rolling offensively in terms of numbers in the Olympics like he is now, but very few players had a lot of offensive production in Sochi. Toews finished with a goal and three assists and was tied for fourth on Canada with four points.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville closely monitored all of his players during the Olympics and was impressed by Toews throughout the tournament.

“He was outstanding in the Olympics,” Quenneville said Thursday. “I thought he was arguably one of the best players in the whole tournament. I thought the last few games he’s looked like he’s on that same pace.”

Toews’ first game back from the Olympics was a quiet one against the New York Rangers. He began to pick up his play against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on Saturday. He scored twice and had little trouble maneuvering through the winter conditions that troubled most of the game’s players.

“I’m sure winning the championship gets you excited, and the big outdoor game,” Quenneville said. “Johnny rises to the occasion, the bigger the stage, the bigger the setting. He’s a special player. He’s playing well.”

Toews scored a power-play goal in a 4-2 loss against the Colorado Avalanche and scored two more times Thursday. He’s had 13 shots on goal over the three games.

“I feel like I’m getting chances and feel confident when I get the puck,” said Toews, whose career-best goals streak is five games, accomplished during the 2010-11 season. “Whether I’m scoring or not, I feel like I’m generating a lot of chances; finding ways to stay patient with the puck and keep my feet moving with it, and eventually things open up. Just getting a lot of help from my linemates, and we got to keep it going.”