In the wake of last night’s shutout loss, the fury from Chicago Blackhawks fans was immense. They called for Ray Emery to take Corey Crawford’s place. They even demanded that everyone in the front office should be fired, from general manager Stan Bowman down to the assistant coaches. But in their rage, they’re failing to realize a painfully obvious point: firing people won’t fix what’s wrong on the ice.
I’m seeing so much go wrong with the Blackhawks, things that they made look so effortless in the regular season. They had their way with the Minnesota Wild and their goalie troubles, but now they’re up against a Detroit Red Wings team that has nothing to lose and a goaltender that has frustrated them. The most frustrated of them all seems to be Jonathan Toews.
It’s Toews who has the C on his chest, the one who is supposed to lead this team every night. But lately the guys are playing like they have no leader. Toews has no goals to his credit in nine games and has been losing faceoffs. You can see the frustration he feels in the scrums between whistles. On Thursday, it bubbled over and cost the team six minutes of shorthanded ice time, two of which resulted in a power play and broke their streak of 30 consecutive penalty kills. Brent Seabrook even had to go over to the penalty box and tell Toews to calm down for fear the frustration would spread over the rest of the team.
If Toews really wants to help the team, he needs to put his words into action. It’s not enough to give fans and the media lip service by saying that they’re optimistic and need to focus on one game at a time. Toews needs to show the team itself how to handle being down three games. The biggest way he can do that is through discipline. If Toews steps up his game and handles himself like the captain he is, the others will follow suit. That’s especially important to his younger teammates like Andrew Shaw, who’s been rather hotheaded in this series.
We can call Toews one of the best captains in the league, but that means nothing if he can’t lead his team through this series. His failures reflect on them and affect their play and attitude, and that in turn comes through on the ice. If he truly wants to win the next game, he’ll have to fix what’s wrong with himself first.