Following a thrilling overtime win against the Red Wings in Detroit last night, the Blackhawks inched even closer to solidifying a playoff spot. The Red Wings sit as the second seed right now, a massive 11 points behind the number one Vancouver Canucks, but the Hawks have the eight seed all to themselves now, and sit a mere three points behind the fourth-seeded Phoenix Coyotes.
The most important note following last night's game, however, is that Calgary and Dallas are now three and four points, respectively, behind the Hawks. Have no fear Chicago: the Hawks will make the playoffs.
Although, going into this season, that statement appeared as a gimme to most fans, the season has been a rollercoaster, with low lows allowing fans to muster in frustration and doubt. Marian Hossa scored the game-winner last night, and he, along with Patrick Kane and the now injured Patrick Sharp, will have to start contributing on a nightly basis for the Hawks to make any progress in the playoffs. Goalie Corey Crawford has been excellent as will this year, but thus far Hawk fans simply owe their thanks to Jonathan Toews.
Young captain Towes has done a masterful job leading this team over the past two months, and while the ride has still been bumpy, Hawk fans must thank him for taking the reigns of this team and driving them to the playoffs.
Toews has potted 31 goals and added 44 assists in the 2010-11 season thus far, putting him in the top 20 of the NHL for each category, and eigth in the entire league with 75 points. While this may not earn him enough serious consideration for the MVP award, his efforts surely have not gone unnoticed in Chicago, and the captain has shown a drastic improvement over last year's 25 goals and 43 assists. With seven games to go, Towes has already set new career highs in both categories, and is surely looking to add to those numbers down this final part of the stretch.
Without this dominance by Towes, the Hawks would have long been dead. The deadline acquisitions of Michael Frolik and Chris Campoli gave the team a much-needed boost in energy, but without the play of Jonathan Toews, these moves would only mean more for the future. The Blackhawks are going to make the playoffs, and Toews is the only man to thank for that.
So, shouldn't that be enough for him to earn serious consideration as the MVP? It should be, but Toews is now contending with the likes of Daniel Sedin (96 P), Martin St. Louis and Henrik Sedin (89 P), Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos (86 P), as well as Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jarome Iginla who all sit within two points ahead of Toews. It seems hard to count out Daniel Sedin and his 96 points on 40 goals and 56 assits, but the key is that Toews, always noted as a remarkable player, is now among the elite players in the NHL.
This will not be Towes' year to win the MVP, barring some incredible onslaught from him during the final handful of games during the regular season, but he has obviously meant as much to the Hawks as these other MVP contenders have to the teams they play for. If the Hawks are able to make a productive playoff run, and Toews can lead them past some of these other elite players and tought teams, his MVP consideration may rise.
In any case, while Patrick Kane seems to get a majority of love from the fans, Towes quietly continues improving every season of his career. If the Hawk captain can continue doing that, there is no doubt that he will be earning his share of MVP awards, even if it does not start this year.