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Why Jonathan Toews was Blackhawks’ most valuable forward in 2020 NHL postseason

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The rumors of Toews’ demise continue to be greatly exaggerated.

Chicago Blackhawks v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Five Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Even into their 30s, both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane can still show up when their team needs them most.

In the nine games the Blackhawks played in the 2020 postseason, two of the Blackhawks foundational pieces led the team with nine points apiece, with Toews taking the team lead at five goals (Kane had two with a team-high seven assists).

Those performances thrust each player into the discussion of Chicago’s best-performing forward in the postseason, but the all-around contributions from Toews give him a slight nod over Kane as the Blackhawks’ most valuable forward in the 2020 postseason.

After racking up 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 70 regular season games, Toews continued his offensive production in the qualifying series against the Oilers, with seven points (four goals, three assists) that helped Chicago dispatch No. 5 seed Edmonton in four games.

Toews’ contributions to that series were immediate. Linemate Dominik Kubalik grabbed headlines with five points in Game 1, but Toews had three of his own, starting with this power-play goal that gave Chicago a lead it never relinquished:

Toews was also largely responsible for the series-winning goal, battling Edmonton’s Ethan Bear for a 50/50 puck that Toews corralled and passed to Kubalik for the Game 4 winner.

The points production was important, but Toews also fared well when matched up against Connor McDavid, who’s arguably the best player in the NHL at the moment. Still, Toews often got the better of McDavid in terms of possession numbers. According to Natural Stat Trick, Toews was on the ice for 17:03 at five-on-five ice against McDavid. During those games, Toews enjoyed a 21-12 advantage in Corsi events (shot attempts) and a 3-1 goal advantage. Toews was especially dominant in Games 1 and 4, owning a 14-1 Corsi advantage and 3-0 goal advantage in 6:56 at five-on-five in those two games alone.

Like the rest of the team, Toews’ numbers took a step back against the Golden Knights, as Vegas owned a 60-40 CF% advantage in five games during the first-round matchup. In 66:34 at five-on-five against Vegas, Toews clocked in at 36.43 CF%, which was 4.57 below the team rate. But he did finish at 0.17 above the team rate in expected goals for, suggesting he was able to generate quality scoring chances more often than many of his teammates.

But five-on-five play is just part of the story for Toews, of course.

In the Edmonton series, Toews scored twice on the power play and added an assist, part of a Chicago power play that did enough to counter Edmonton’s lethal attack with the man advantage. Although Toews’ penalty kill numbers weren’t great against the Oilers, credit must be assigned to Toews for skating 5:09 on the PK against Vegas without allowing a goal against. The Golden Knights amassed just four shots on goal during the power play while Toews was on the ice in that series, a rate of under one shot per minute of shorthanded TOI that is more than acceptable for PK players.

He’s been in the league for 13 seasons, with a slew of team titles and individual accolades to his name. Father Time will find his way into the discussion at some point, of course. But Toews — who turned 32 in April — showed this month that, when the stakes are raised in the postseason, he can still deliver. And that’s a positive development for a franchise that looks like it’s still trying to squeeze one more run at the Stanley Cup out of Toews and Kane’s tenure in Chicago.

Stats via Natural Stat Trick and Hockey-Reference