First a disclaimer. Jonathan Toews is my all time favorite hockey player. It used to be Bobby Hull, but now it Toews. Hull was a wonderfully talented and charismatic player. His end to end rushes and booming slap slot were a joy to behold. And yet, despite being playing with a number of other great Hawks, he was on only one Stanley Cup. Jonathan Toews, though not as flashy as Hull and perhaps not as talented, has been on three Cup winners. Toews just does what it takes to win. Win a big faceoff. Okay. Go into the corner and dig a puck out? Check. Go to the front of the net and score and ugly goal? Jonathan can do that too. Toews also has the ability to score pretty goals too. He’s a highly skilled guy. Toews is actually the all time NHL leader in shootout goals with 50. Toews’ skill and grit were on full display in the Blackhawks series win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Toews assisted on the deciding goal in Game Four of the Edmonton series after out wrestling a Bear (Ethan Bear to be exact) for the puck from behind the net. In Game Three, Jonathan scored two egregiously ugly goals, but they counted, and propelled the Hawks to a 4-3.
While Toews had a great series, Hawks netminder, Corey Crawford got progressively better as the series wore on. He was great in Game Four. Crawford seems to get better the more work he gets. If he gets into a grove, the Hawks could be a tough out in the playoffs.
Duncan Keith also showed why he was named one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history. Keith played excellent defense and chipped in offensively with four assists. Defensman,Ollie Maatta, kicked in with two goals and two assists and finished with a plus four for the series. The Hawks defense has been suspect for some time, but did pretty well as a group against the Oilers.
The Hawks also had some young guys helping the cause. Matthew Highmore had some lows, but also contributed two big goals. Rookie, Kirby Dach, seemingly can do everything but score a goal. Possibly because he seems to have a pathological fear of shooting the puck. With coaching, and perhaps therapy, I suspect he will overcome that tendency and become a genuine beast.
Dominik Kubalik scored the game winner in Game Four. He’s a tremendous sniper. The Hawks have to resign him. But that’s a story for after the playoffs.
Patrick had four points on a goal and three assists for the series, but seemed relatively low key. That could well change in the next series. Blackhawks playoff hockey is back, and I like it