Toews looking to be Toews again

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- He's been an interesting study all season, Jonathan Toews, but more now than ever before.

Named captain at the start of his second season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Toews has had to grow up fast.

And now, in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, he has to learn how to lead when there was all sorts of evidence going into Game 2 that he might not be able to be Jonathan Toews.

Sick and perhaps playing with a shoulder injury, Toews did that last night to help lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-3 win in Game 2 .

"You want to be making a difference and making the big play," said the kid who scored 34 goals and produced sixty-nine points in his sophomore season as third-youngest captain in the history of the NHL.

Toews had to make an adjustment when the Hawks put the 'C' on his sweater at the start of his season.

"It might have affected him early," confessed GM Dale Tallon, the first draft pick of the Canucks 39 years ago and a guy who knows all about putting pressure on kids early and how that can go sour.

"He didn't get a goal in his first 13 games. But it was a decision made for the long term."

The Winnipeg product made the adjustment to being a captain of a playoff team when he may not be able to lead by example.

Toews had seen a reduction in his ice time in the last two games of the Chicago-Calgary series. And he was only on the ice for three minutes and change in the third period of the Blackhawks' spirited comeback from 3-0 to tying at 3-3 before losing Game 1 in the final minutes Thursday.

All of a sudden Toews, who had missed the Hawks practice here on his 21st birthday Wednesday, was under the magnifying glass going into last night's Game 2.

"No one is making any excuses," he said.

"Everyone plays through things at this time of year. Every player has those little nagging things, but you play through it. Everyone is playing through something. Healthy or not, it's just the way it goes sometimes."

"For me, there are things I have to do better. There were two goals in the second period I was out there on," he said of being a non-factor in Game 1.

Speculation coming out of the Calgary series was that he may have a shoulder injury.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is a little frustrated.

"Johnny is a proud guy and doesn't want to make excuses, but he's been kind of under the weather the last couple days. That's why we didn't use him as much.

"You don't want to overplay him knowing that you might burn him out for what's going to take place in this series. He was fine but he wasn't anywhere near where he normally is."

"Flu?" he was asked.

"That's kinda what we're talking about," said Quenneville.

"Upper body flu or lower body flu?" a media jokester inquired.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault seemed to be buying what Quenneville was selling.

"Their best faceoff man wasn't very good," he said of Toews losing eight of 11 in Game 1. "It's probably got something to do with the flu he's got right now."

Toews bounced back to win seven of 11 faceoffs last night.

Toews clearly wanted to be able to be Toews in the second-straight series against Western Canadian teams.

"It's been pretty awesome. Going into the playoffs we didn't know who we were going to match up against.

"The chance to play two Canadian teams in a row has meant there would be a lot of people watching."

His parents have been watching at home in Winnipeg but will be flying to Chicago for Game 3 & 4. Maybe his mom will be able to bring some chicken soup.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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