Hawks' captain provides plenty of food for thought
Sometimes, when there are a handful of days in between series, honestly, the mind begins to wander.
There are only so many things you can ask about an opponent who had yet to emerge, or so many times you can hear the phrases "day-to-day" or "we'll see."
That's why you gotta love Jonathan Toews.
The Hawks will face the L.A. Kings Sunday after the Kings blew out the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 Friday night. But the Hawks opponent was still unclear Friday morning and yet Toews came through for the media with a thoughtful, interesting chat covering a wide range of topics.
Here's some of what the captain had to say on the eve of the eve of the Western Conference finals:
"It just seems like his job has gotten tougher and tougher over the last few years. Even him being a huge part of our Stanley Cup winning team last year, it doesn't seem like it's getting easier for him. But he keeps rising to challenges, picking his game up and improving in so many ways, especially mentally, to be able to handle that pressure.
"I feel like after every game I'm answering questions about him and I joke I'm running out of things to say. But that pretty much sums it up right there with the way he's matured as a player."
"I thought I'd have it going by now but I guess not. Been living in a state of denial the last couple of years thinking it was going to come in. Now I've pretty much accepted it; that's the way it goes."
Having another level:
"There has to be. You improve as a series goes along and you have to get better and better as the playoffs go along. We have to be better than we've been in the first two rounds if we want to keep going all the way."
Comparing Cup teams:
"I guess both years there was that element of just not knowing what was in store for us, not knowing how far we could take this thing. As you get closer and closer you start to believe more and more.
"I think last year, once we got past Detroit we said, 'OK, we have a chance to do something special here.' It wasn't quite as long for that to set in mentally as it did in 2010.
"This time around, having won last year, we're more in tune with what we're capable of as a team. I think we're just more conscious of the things we need to do to win a Stanley Cup."
A 'Detroit' moment yet?
"I wouldn't say quite as significant. But the fact we were able to overcome going down 0-2 to St. Louis right off the hop. Everyone's excited to play in the playoffs, and all of a sudden you're in a tight spot pretty early. It wasn't a good feeling, but it wasn't quite as urgent as that series against Detroit. Any time you go through moments like that -- first round, second round, Cup Final -- if you're able to break through it gives your team a lot of confidence."
Western Conference Finals scheduleGame 1: Sunday, May 18, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Game 2: Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Game 3: Saturday, May 24, 7 p.m. (NBC)
Game 4: Monday, May 26, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
*Game 6: Friday, May 30, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
*Game 7: Sunday, June 1, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
All game times Central