I’m doing a daily review of each Chicago Blackhawks player and giving out grades based on performance during the 2013-14 season thus far. Today, we examine Jonathan Toews.
Toews’ overall offensive production has taken a small step back from where its point-per-game status of 2012-13. His goal scoring specifically, meanwhile, has suffered a much larger hit; Toews is currently on track for the lowest goals-per-game rate in a single season of his entire NHL career. This comes despite the fact that he has had the best set of permanent and consistent linemates of his career in Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
Oddly, Toews’ face-off excellence has dropped off. He still wins a very strong 56 percent of his draws, but that is a far cry from the 60 percent of the prior two seasons. The 4.0 percent gap represents the difference between a well-above average face-off man and an unquestionably elite one.
It is unlikely that Toews’ “real” face-off ability is suddenly 4.0 percent worse than it was a season ago, but at the same time it is difficult to provide a reasonable explanation for the drop-off that isn’t something of that ilk. Some have speculated a hand or wrist injury — indeed, this would also explain Toews’ underwhelming shot this season — but there has been no concrete indication from Toews or the Blackhawks that those suspicions have merit.
Defensively, the tide turns. Toews has been every bit as sensational in his own zone as he was in last year’s Selke-winning campaign, and has cemented his place among the NHL’s best two-way forwards.
Final Verdict: B-
Expectations for Toews are astronomically high, and rightfully so. The fact that most would label this a disappointing season so far is a testament to how great a player Toews is.