Jonathan Toews served notice again on Sunday: when the chips are down, there's no better captain to have on your team.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews does it all. He scores goals, makes plays, hits, wins faceoffs, kills penalties and provides all kinds of leadership for his Hawks squad.
In short, he’s the best captain in the playoffs right now.
For evidence of this, we need only look to Sunday’s 2-1 Blackhawks triumph over the Minnesota Wild, and remember who made that victory possible.
It was ‘Captain Serious,’ Jonathan Toews.
Toews broke a 1-1 tie in the third period with a bullish effort in the Minnesota Wild zone. After a big hit on Mikael Granlund, Toews went to the net and fought off his checkers to bat the puck past Ilya Bryzgalov.
That goal would hold up as the deciding tally, the 10th playoff game-winner of Toews’ career.
For those counting at home, that puts him first overall in Blackhawks history, and he’s still a young guy with time to build on that lead. The goal was also Toews’ league-leading fourth game-winner of these playoffs.
But it’s not just the timely goals that make Toews so valuable. He was also on the ice when the Blackhawks needed to hold their lead, and his faceoff skills were key in doing it. In fact, his faceoff numbers are the best in the playoffs. The guy wins 59.5 percent of his draws, better even than Boston’s Patrice Bergeron.
And he plays more than anyone else, too. No forward still skating in the playoffs averages more ice time than Toews’ 22 minutes a game. The next-highest is Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf at 21:38, but Getzlaf’s faceoff numbers are well below the 50 percent mark.
So is there a better center - or a better captain - than Toews right now?
Getzlaf is certainly important to his team, but he’s not nearly as clutch. His defensive numbers aren’t great, and Toews holds the edge in goals scored with five to Getzlaf’s four.
L.A.’s Dustin Brown is a really good energy player but not a difference-maker. The Wild’s Mikko Koivu has just one goal in these playoffs. Ditto for the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, who's been such a non-factor in these playoffs that he doesn't pose serious competition for Toews.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and the Kings’ Anze Kopitar are really the only comparables for Toews. They’re both really good two-way players and former Stanley Cup champs, but they don’t run their respective teams the way Toews does.
Neither player is the leader Toews is.
And no other captain in the playoffs has the two (and perhaps, soon to be three?) Stanley Cup rings that Toews does.
Because when the game, the series and the season is on the line, there is simply no better player to have on your team than Jonathan Toews.