If NHL superstar Sidney Crosby had just one goal through 18 playoff games, it would be headline news, but it's not the same for Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Maybe it's because Toews is doing everything else besides scoring.
"He just plays a hard game," coach Joel Quenneville said as he prepares his team for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. "Offensively his numbers may be down, but the one thing you get from Jonny, without the puck, they have to be concerned with him. He takes the top matchup a lot of the time; they're going to see Jonny a lot."
In other words, if offense isn't his game, then defense is. As Quenneville sees it, as long as Toews isn't giving up much to his opponent -- usually the top players on the other team -- then there's nothing to complain about. Play them even, Quenneville says.
"With Jonny, he doesn't give up a lot," he stated. "Sometimes you're squared [even] off in that area."
The best indication that Toews is still being Toews is his plus/minus statistic. With just nine points in 18 games this postseason, it has the potential to be a negative number. But Toews is plus-4. Not the best of his playoff runs, but it still works.
"I still want to create offense, still want to be a go-to guy on the power play," Toews said Friday. "At the same time, I saw a lot of ice against [Patrice] Bergeron and [David] Krejci and those guys. There's a lot of moments where you're close to scoring and you have to stay with it. You go through almost three periods of overtime and you feel like you can be one those guys to contribute and score ... obviously you want to be one of those players that makes those big plays at this time of year."
Toews said his only frustration this postseason came when the Hawks were down 3-1 to Detroit facing elimination in Round 2. His desire to score increased with the Hawks' need for goals. And of course he came through with a Game 5 goal. Now, he doesn't care who nets the game winners, he knows he can lead in other ways.
"I think it always starts with your game," he said. "You always want to have your game under control and play the best you can. First and foremost, lead by example."
So, although there was talk of Toews being off his game earlier in the postseason, that has subsided. People are realizing -- if they didn't before -- that he brings so much more to the game than scoring goals. He's part of a penalty kill that has ranked first throughout the playoffs, and then of course there are his leadership skills as captain. Those aren't little things. When Patrick Kane doesn't produce, that's a worthy criticism. Not necessarily so with Toews.
"Jonny brings a lot to the table besides the production," Quenneville said. "You expect he's going to break out one of these days, but at the same time, that consistency of what the other team has to be concerned with still complements our game."
Expect more of Toews guarding the Krejci line in Game 2. Quenneville could make it easier on his captain by matching him up with the Bruins' third line anchored by center Richard Peverley. Dave Bolland and his wingers had their way with that trio, but Quenneville has often liked his top lines to go against the opponent's best. Toews is fine with that, and comfortable without scoring, as long as his team is winning.
"For a lot of guys, it can be discouraging when it doesn't go your way, but, for myself, I just try to stay with it," Toews stated. "I'll keep going with the same attitude."
Quenneville summed it up best about his captain. Even when he's not scoring, he's still a factor in the game. He always has been.
"There's attention that has to be paid to him, he leaves it out there," Quenneville said.