It’s no secret that Jonathan Toews’ goal-drought to begin the season weighs heavily on him. He’s used to being able to be penciled in for at least 20 every year of his career. But after missing all of last season, it was expected that Toews would have to ease back into playing a full-fledged NHL schedule at the high level of competitive standards that he holds himself to. Through 19 games, Toews has eight assists and no goals while winning 57.1 percent of his faceoffs this season. By his usual 82-game average goal-scoring pace of 29.9 goals per season, Toews would have already scored seven goals this season in an average year.
That’s not the case.
His goal drought is clearly weighing on him.
"It’s been a while since I’ve seen a puck go in, obviously. Definitely like scoring goals. So I’d like to get going in that area. Just got to keep working through it. I’m not really sure what else to say at this point."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 24, 2021
The mental aspect of sports is such a massive part of every game. Confidence in your ability to play at a high level and produce at the level you are paid and expected to can and does weigh on every athlete. For Toews, a player being paid the same amount of money as Patrick Kane ($10.5M AAV), he will be expected to produce similarly. This season more than ever, he is not living up to it.
But it’s not just on the 33-year-old Captain. The Blackhawks as a team have a problem this season with secondary scoring.
Dominik Kubalík hasn’t scored in his past 13 games and hasn’t scored a 5v5 goal all season.
Dylan Strome has just one goal and three points on the year.
Just one of Kirby Dach’s three goals this season has come at 5v5 play.
Philipp Kurashev was a healthy-scratch last night after recording just five assists and no goals in 17 games this season.
Mike Hardman hasn’t scored in 13 games all season
Calvin de Haan hasn’t even registered a point in 18 games all season.
According to Natural StatTrick, the Blackhawks are averaging 23.26 scoring chances per 60 minutes and 8.44 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at 5v5 play this season. That ranks 30th and 31st in the league. They are also only registering 1.73 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5v5 this season, which is dead-last in the NHL. Their 5v5 shooting percentage is 6.38%, which is 27th in the league.
While getting Marc-André Fleury back to his old self is helping the Blackhawks on their recent turnaround (5-2-0 since November 7), they cannot expect the soon-to-be 37-year-old Fleury to bail them out night after night and expect to win games by scoring just two or three goals per night, maybe not even that much.
Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane cannot carry the offensive load by themselves again all season like they did last year. If Dylan Strome is going to keep his spot in the lineup, he must produce. If Kirby Dach wants to stay away from third-overall pick “bust” status, he must produce. If Dominik Kubalík intends to be a part of the future in Chicago, he must produce. If Jonathan Toews wants to live up to his contract, especially since he is coming towards the final year of the deal, he must produce. Suppose Chicago will turn the season entirely around and try to live up to their preseason expectations of contending for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. In that case, there needs to be a dramatic shift offensively.