Summer Reading - SCH's Season Review: The Dizzy Captain
We wrap up our player reviews with the guy it always revolves around, and that's Jonathan Toews. While the Hawks proved this year they can survive, and even be good, without Captain Marvel for a long stretch, everyone knows that Toews is the difference from the Hawks being merely a threat to a genuine titan. Which is why looking at some of his record is a little weird, but we'll get to that.
Jonathan Toews's Stats: 59G 29G 28A 57P +17 28PIM 0.77 Behind The Net Rating, 0.074 QofC, 17.7 CORSI
The Good: Before his injury, Toews was well on-course for his first 40-goal season, or at the very least to blow by his career high of 34. A Hart nomination looked more likely than ever, as well as another nomination for the Selke (which could have easily gone to Sharp if people really looked hard at stats. But I guess if they did that more players who don't score a lot would get nominations). There's an argument to be made that the stretch of hockey that started with Black Friday in Anaheim (where Toews essentially tore apart the Ducks by himself in the 3rd period) and through December was the best he's ever put together. 12 goals in 16 games, and just kicking skulls at every opportunity. There's a reason that the Hawks put a 9-1 stretch together in December, and it's mostly to do with Tazer. Whenever Toews was in an important game, it seemed he scored important goals. The opener against Detroit on December 30th, through a concussed fog against the Rangers to end the streak of death, opening the playoffs, he was there when it counted...for the most part.
The Bad: I present the following stat merely as information, not as comment: In his last 23 playoff games, Toews has three goals. The last two years, 13 of those games, Toews has had injury problems, that we know. And the goals tended to be rather large -- the equalizer in Game 7 shorthanded, and the first and last goals the Hawks scored against Mike Smith. But still, it's three goals. I don't say that to indicate that Toews shrinks in the playoffs. But to raise concern that health in the playoffs may always be a problem. We'll get to that in the last section. The other problem is the injury itself. Concussions are scary, and who knows how well Toews will survive the next big hit. We know there will be one with his style. Maybe he's Claude Giroux and it won't be a problem after the initial absence. Or maybe he's Sidney Crosby. Or maybe somewhere in between. What really keeps you up at night is there isn't an answer.
The last minor concern with Toews is his leadership. I don't mean to suggest he shouldn't wear the C, because he should until I'm in a wheelchair. But the past two years, the Hawks have alluded to some problems in the room, be it a quiet room or disputes with coaches or each other or just an uneasy feeling at times. Some have attributed it to the seriousness with which Toews carries himself, the business tone he sets in the room, which isn't a bad thing, but you can see how at times it can be overbearing. It's Toews job to make sure that the room is a good place to be, changing the mood when it needs it, kicking people in the ass when they need it, or relaxing teammates when they need it. We know he's got the ass-kicking part down, but maybe the other parts could use a touch of work.
Contract: Three more years at a hit of 6.3M
Obviously, we don't have to debate whether Toews is a keeper or not, as he's the rock that the forwards will always be built around. As it should be. Here's my worry with Toews, and it's about that health in the playoffs. Toews's all-action style may just always lead to bruises and bumps and the more serious injuries, leaving him banged-up in the spring. You can't tell Tazer to throttle back at times, he isn't going to. His game isn't a Giroux or Malkin type, he doesn't ghost around people. Both he and Crosby go through people and entire teams, their game is more about power than finesse. It's what makes them special, but it's also what makes them susceptible. While it's admirable that Toews tried to battle through his brain trauma while the team was struggling, it led to a much longer absence. That could easily happen again, given the competitor he is. I hope it doesn't. And there's every chance that Toews is taking home his second Conn Smythe this time next year. One down playoff year due to injury is chance. Two in a row start to suggest a pattern. Not an established one, but on the way.
Now I've written that, you can mark down Toews for 45 goals and 15 more in the postseason next year, for no other reason than shoving it up my ass.