Where art thou, Jonathan Toews?
The good news is that the Blackhawks are getting healthier.
Dylan Strome should play tonight, Robin Lehner is over his food poisoning, Drake Caggiula is traveling with the team and could play Friday and the Hawks have Dennis Gilbert called up should anything happen in practice (like a Zack Smith elbow to Patrick Kane's face).
The bad news is the Hawks are still without Duncan Keith and Andrew Shaw.
The real news is that even with a roster that was 100% healthy, the Hawks were an inconsistent squad.
I have a 2-part series beginning on Monday that analyzes two scenarios and how the remainder of this season could play out: 1) Blackhawks flame out completely and management deems this team a lost cause for 2019-20 and 2) Blackhawks catch fire and look like the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues.
Keep an eye out for those next week. In the meantime, I would like to send out a missing person unit for Jonathan Toews.
Not to pick on just one guy because there are many that I could hone in on, but it's been 27 games for the Captain and there's not much to show for it.
I will preface all of this by saying that Toews has had some really strong games throughout this season where he hasn't been rewarded on the score sheet.
However, we're now at a point in the season where the panic button needs to be alarmed in the Hawks dressing room.
If this team doesn't start playing with some urgency they will be once again answering the same questions come springtime as they have been faced with the last few years.
Jonathan Toews has been one of the biggest drivers of this team since he arrived in the NHL 13 years ago.
Toews' 2018-19 campaign was one of resurgence and "told you I still had it" statement.
He registered career-highs in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81) and looked like he was back.
This year, he still has that jump on most nights, however, the points are not even close.
He's played 27 games and has a measly 4 goals, 10 assists. Woof.
Remember when people were upset that the NHL network didn't name Toews as one of the top 20 centres in the league? Well, I thought Toews would have stored that away and used it as fuel. Maybe someone should slip that list under his hotel room door in Boston this afternoon to get him fired up!
For the record, he's currently ranked 70th in points in the NHL amongst centres.
Let's see if any trends might be accounting for this point drop from #19.
* Zone starts – this is in line with his career with 56.1% of his starts beginning in the offensive zone. Last year it was 57.1%.
* Linemates – he started with Patrick Kane but has played the most with Brandon Saad and Alex Nylander (9.39% frequency according to Dobber's Hockey). While this line has looked good at times, I think there needs to be an upgrade on Nylander when everyone is healthy. Can we please put Saad-Toews-Kubalik together, Jeremy?
* Corsi – is Toews underwater with shots when he's on the ice 5-on-5? Nope. His Corsi is in line at 50.6% from last year's number (51.2%).
* Ice Time – the Captain is still on the ice in the best situations from last year. He's averaging 2.54 PP/game (3:16 last year), 1:56 SH (1:44 last year) and 14:35 EV/game (16:00 last year). A bit of a drop 5-on-5 but not enough to have this significant of an effect.
* Shooting Percentage – ok, now we're getting somewhere. Toews is having some bad puck luck according to this number. For the season, he is shooting at a 5.7% success rate. Last year was 14.9%. He is at 13.9% for his career so one has to think this number will creep up and more goals will come for the captain.
Well, after looking into this in more depth, this Toews guy is a bit of a mystery this year in terms of production – or lack thereof.
I guess I'm chalking this up to bad shooting percentage/puck luck for Toews.
I would also like to see a different RW on his line because the Nylander experiment hasn't really worked to date.
The other hypothesis is that Toews played a lot of time in the 2nd half of the season with Patrick Kane. I heard that guy is pretty good and can help anyone pad their stats.
There's always an option to put 19 and 88 back together if DeBrincat and Strome would ever get going and can carry the 2nd line on their own. But that's a story for another day.
Let's see how the Captain and his Blackhawks look against the best team in the league tonight.
See ya out there!