The Chicago Blackhawks are 14 games into the 2021-22 season. Despite an awful start, the Hawks are riding a two-game winning streak and looking to turn the corner with Derek King at the helm. However, throughout the darkness on the ice, the Blackhawks have one player who looks like his usual self. That player? It's Jonathan Toews.
Toews has eight points so far this season. Although Toews has yet to record a goal, his eight assists are a signal that he continues to be a playmaker for this team. Yes, fellow big names such as Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and others are playing well, but Toews had a whole season off before taking the ice in 2021-22.
In Tuesday's win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toews dished out one of the prettiest passes of this season so far. While circling around the back of the Penguins' net, Toews shielded the puck from a defender, fed a pass between two defenders, and found Jujhar Khaira back door for the tap-in goal.
Toews isn't only getting it done with his passing, he's also ensuring the Blackhawks gain possession of the puck more often than not after a whistle.
As of Tuesday night, Jonathan Toews was leading the NHL in face-off win percentage with a minimum of 200 draws taken. Seeing those numbers for Toews early this season has to make Hawks fans feel good, as the captain is back playing his tough, two-way style. Toews is also averaging just short of 18 minutes of ice time per night, giving confidence that he feels healthy and the Blackhawks aren't afraid to use him.
Toews' face-off percentage is even higher now than indicated in Mark Lazerus' tweet. Toews has increased his percentage to 60.5 through 14 games. He has been sensational, and a very important reason why the Blackhawks are much better as a team in the dot this season. Face-off wins lead to possession, and in order to score in the NHL, your team needs to have the puck.
In addition to Toews' passing and face-off skills, the 33-year-old center continues to frustrate goalies in the shootout. In fact, when teammate Marc-Andre Fleury was asked about Toews' signature shootout move, he told Mark Lazerus to shush and to keep it a secret.
Fleury knows. Toews' shootout move is so simple yet so deadly. He has enjoyed incredible success over the course of his career, converting on 50% of his attempts. In fact, of NHL players all-time to have at least 100 attempts in the shootout, Toews has the highest success rate.
Despite not playing since the bubble in 2020, Toews looks like his usual self. The goals will come, but seeing the former third overall pick look like himself on the ice is a good sign for the Blackhawks. The team's start to the season may have ruined their playoff chances, but a stronger showing the rest of the way will be key for this team entering a new era with a new regime.