Saturday, April 18, 2009
Should Toews Get Olympic Consideration
Jonathan Toews is just about out of reach for The Pipeline Show. We usually stop focusing on guys after their sophomore NHL season and Toews is just about there, so I'll talk about him while I can.
Toews was brilliant tonight for the Hawks as they took a 2-0 series lead against Calgary. He scored Chicago's first goal to cut the Flames lead in half, and finished them off with the winner late in the 2nd. He picked up an assist in game one and is plus 3 in the series so far. He's also been great at disrupting the Flames attack in the neutral zone.
Toews started the season slow without a goal in his first 12 games, but heated up when it counted helping Chicago sew up home ice advantage in the first round. The former North Dakota Fighting Sioux star had 17 points in his final 22 games, which might not be mind blowing, but consider he's one of their best defensive forwards and penalty killers. The middle man led the Hawks in face off percentage (54.7) and game winning goals (7) during the regular season and has won over 64 per cent of his draws so far in the playoffs. But it's more than that. He's the team captain and leads by example with his tenacious checking and clutch goal scoring.
Of course the question surrounding Toews and the Olympic team is....Will there be room for him up the middle? Right now you have Crosby and Thornton as sure things. Then you have to choose from Getzlaf, Carter, Richards, Savard, Staal Lecavalier, Spezza and others. Of course some of those guys can and will have to move to the wing. I think Toews is smart and versatile enough to be able to play left wing and should get another chance to represent his country. He's previously done it with Canada at the U-17's scoring the championship goal, leading the tournament in scoring and being named MVP. Then there's the World Juniors, winning a gold medal as the team's youngest member in 2006 and of course getting them to the Gold Medal game where they would win again in 2007. Enjoy all 8:26 of it Canadian fans.
In the same season, after leaving North Dakota, Toews suited up for Canada at the World Hockey Championship, picking up 7 points in 9 games as Canada won gold again. In fact the only time that Toews hasn't won gold with Canada was last year when they lost to Russia in the final.
Toews is starting to become yet another great Canadian hockey player wearing #19. He's not there yet, but he's well on his way to joining Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, and Bryan Trottier (you know Brian Bellows favorite player-threw this in for pure enjoyment)
as two way stars who simply win when it counts. For me that gets Toews on the Olympic team next year, providing of course he's having a solid season.
This Just In: Mikael Backlund is very good. The Swede who joined Kelowna after the World Junior Championship burned the Vancouver Giants tonight, scoring twice and setting up another as Kelowna drew first blood in the Western Conference final with a 4-2 win. Backlund scored an absolute beauty on the power play to get things going for Kelowna, then thread the needle with a terrific pass after chasing down a Giants d-man, stealing the puck and making a perfect pass to linemate Ian Duval. Backlund also picked up a helper on the empty net goal as Kelowna wins their 5th straight. There's a reason Guy and I both picked the Rockets to come out of the west before the playoffs started.