Toews off to the slowest start of his Blackhawks career
It's official: Jonathan Toews is off to the slowest start of his 14-year career.
The Blackhawks' center, who did not play last season due to health issues, does not have a goal or an assist in the first four games.
That's never happened before. Toews' worst previous starts came two years ago when he had 1 goal and 1 assist after 11 games, and in 2016-17 when he had 2 assists through seven games.
"No doubt I've got work to do," Toews said Tuesday after the Hawks' 4-1 loss to the Islanders at the United Center. "There's some conditioning I need to keep chipping away at, just recovery and taking care of the body and getting ready for the next game.
"So, yeah, definitely not where I want to be yet. But I still got to find a way to go out there and contribute and do things on both sides of the puck."
Toews rebounded from that slow start in 2019-20 and finished with 18 goals and 42 assists in the pandemic-shortened 70-game campaign.
"He's had some good games and he's had his chances," said coach Jeremy Colliton. "It's not as if he wasn't able to produce in preseason.
"We're looking for just a solid performance. We don't need anyone to win the game for us by themselves. We need a team game, defend well, defend hard -- more like last night -- and we'll break through."
Toews was moved by the reaction from the fans Tuesday, calling it a "special moment." While the other players received varying levels of applause, the UC rose as one and erupted as public address announcer Gene Honda bellowed Toews' name.
"Everyone was looking forward to having fans back at the United Center," Toews said. "Wish we could have given them more tonight, but it's nice to see a packed house here in Chicago. It's been a while since we've seen that."
Toews, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy and Calvin de Haan did not practice Wednesday as the Hawks prepared to take on Vancouver at the United Center on Thursday.
Mike Hardman, who made his season debut skating on a line with Alex DeBrincat and Henrik Borgstrom during the Hawks' loss to the Islanders, was held out of practice Wednesday with a head laceration. Hardman left in the second period after Matt Martin checked him into the boards. He will not play against Vancouver on Thursday.
Colliton was more than pleased with Hardman's performance against New York
"He did exactly what we hoped he would do," Colliton said. "That line was probably our best line. DeBrincat, that's his best game. So we'll see how long it is, but (Hardman) kind of picked up where he left off in camp."
The Hawks will hold a pregame celebration for Patrick Kane on Thursday for his 1,000-game milestone, which he reached last season. The team decided to delay the ceremony until the United Center could be at full capacity.
"He's a great player and deserves all the recognition he gets," said coach Jeremy Colliton said. "(If) it provides us with an energy and a spark, that'd be great. We've got to find a way to be really good. That should be enough for our group to get fired up."
Sellout streak in jeopardy?
The Blackhawks have sold out 532 consecutive home games, a streak that dates back to the 2008-09 season. With an average of 3,000 seats available for the next three games there is a chance this run comes to an end soon.