by Scott King
Despite the formerly impeccable undefeated Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews goal record taking a hit after Sunday’s 7-6 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kane and Toews are off to some start for the Blackhawks.
That record, now 44-0-1, is how the Hawks fared the past 45 games the duo scored a goal in the same game.
Toews is off to a career start in the team’s first three games (five goals, one assist). The captain recorded his fifth career hat trick in Saturday’s 5-4 win in St. Louis and also scored a goal in Chicago’s other two contests.
Kane hasn’t been too shabby in the opening stretch either (four goals, two assists). He became the first player in history to score two game-tying goals in under 2:00 of regulation when he forced overtime Sunday.
“To have those guys leading the way, that’s what we need them for,” Brandon Saad said. “Like you said, it kind of takes the pressure off, but at the same time, if we get everyone contributing we’re going to be a tough team to beat. I think we’re happy with our team and we’re looking forward to keep improving.”
The Blackhawks stars starting the season en fuego has no doubt helped the team start with a Central division best 2-0-1 record.
“I think when anybody plays great hockey it’s going to help the other four guys on the ice,” Duncan Keith said.
The captain is enjoying the early team success and the best start he’s had in the NHL.
“It’s fun,” Toews said. “It’s fun. As long as we’re winning and progressing and [I’m] showing that I’m starting to play the way I know I can play, just being a threat on the ice and playing well with my linemates.
“That’s what it all comes down to, just improving every day. I’m not going to get ahead of myself, it’s only three games, just got to keep doing the little things that I’ve been doing well and keep working for results.”
“Outstanding start,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. “Jonny’ has played great. Seems like he’s got pace, has the puck more. In some tight areas he’s coming up with loose pucks. That line has been effective being off the rush or in-zone.
“He’s noticeable, like we just talked about, him at the net and how he’s been very productive or effective. I just think that it’s a great sign for our team when Jonny’ is leading the way in the production side, but his consistency, you’re going to get everything out of Jonny’ game in and game out. He’s got a great start.”
Anyone who’s watched the Kane and Toews Blackhawks knows that between the two, there’s often a game within the game.
“It always seems like it’s been like that throughout the years that if one guy has a great game, the next guy has to have a big game to just remind him that he’s still there,” Keith said.
“So that’s internal competition that those two kind of have, but that’s why they’re a big part of the success we’ve had over the years and obviously so far in the first three games.”
Despite the internal competition that’s virtually always existed between Toews and Kane, Kane admires the way the captain has played to start the season.
“He’s had a great start to the season,” Kane said. “I think that line’s been controlling the play a lot and they’ve been dangerous pretty much every time they’ve been on the ice. Jonny’ has had a great start, he’s been around the net, he’s been producing a lot for us.
“I mean, that St. Louis game was pretty unreal, the timeliness of his goals, to score that one at the end of the first, to kind of keep us in the game, then tie it up in the third and get the winner in overtime. He’s had a great start, I’m sure he’s excited about it.”
Kane believes Toews’ on-ice success is paying dividends for the team.
“It’s great for our team,” Kane said. “It’s great for the balance in our locker room to know that your captain is going to be playing like that every night and he’s as ready as possible to go for the season. He’s been leading the charge for sure.”
As their time in Hawks sweaters grew longer, there became a greater purpose to the dynamic duo trying to one-up each other.
“It was probably more of a competition when we were younger,” Kane said. “But now we know how good it is for the team if we’re both producing and both going. If one line does something, you want to be able to go out there and do something too. Hopefully we keep that kind of pushback with each other going all year.”
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