Jonathan Toews knows his team needs him to step up, but the Blackhawks captain isn't going to force the issue. While stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin take over games seemingly at their whim, Toews just kind of happens. And he isn't going to change his approach now.
''I just have to play with energy every single shift and be as tough as [possible] to play against,'' Toews said Monday at Joe Louis Arena after the team's morning skate prior to Game 3 of the Hawks' Western Conference semifinal series against the Red Wings.
''You keep working, eventually you chip away, something's going to happen for you. Somebody's going to make a mistake on the other team and you just hope for those breaks.''
In seven playoff games, Toews has zero goals and three assists with an even plus-minus rating. He doesn't deny that he feels the pressure to score goals.
''I always do,'' he said. ''Maybe a little added pressure given the situation. Right now I'm just not letting it build up too much in my own mind. Sometimes you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game goes down hill. I'm not letting that happen. But I know that sooner or later something's got to give. Hopefully I'll be able to find a way to contribute in a big way for my team.''
The Hawk's No. 1 line of Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad has scored one goal in the first two games of the series. Hossa has been a minus-one in each game. Saad has nine shots and no goals.
Toews knows that for him to break out, the whole line is going to have to be involved.
''You gotta keep working and try to keep the puck as much as you can,'' Toews said. ''The more you have it the more opportunities you're going to get to score. Eventually something's gotta go in. Once they do, whether it's myself or Sodder or Hoss, I think confidence will come rushing back that we can keep scoring on a regular basis. We're confident that's going to happen.''
Toews is still smarting from getting roughed up by Wings star Henrik
Zetterberg in Game 2. It'll be interesting to see how he responds in Game 3.
''He's doing a lot of little things to take myself and my linemates off our game,'' Toews said. ''I think he's a smart player that way. Maybe it's time to return the favor a little bit.
''I guess that's the nature of playoff hockey that sometimes they're going to let things go a little more often. It's time to dish that back a little bit. And just try and make things more difficult for guys like him and his linemates as well.''
Toews is known for his mental toughness and patience. Both could come in handy in this series.
''I feel like I've been in situations before where I go a stretch of games without scoring and it's tough,'' Toews said. ''Anyone would start to doubt themselves a little bit. [But] there's no time for that. There's a lot of different ways I can help my team out. I've really focused on that and been patient. You just have to let it come to you to a certain degree. The more you try and force things, the rest of your game can deteriorate. Mentally, I just try to stay on my game and not let that happen.''