Toews: Fresh Hawks excited about start

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
6:51
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews credited his team's hot start to being mentally recharged this season.

"We're more mentally fresh than anything," Toews said Wednesday on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I think just ready to go. We know what our team can do this year, and we're showing it early. We're pretty excited the way we've started so far."

The Blackhawks have opened the season with three consecutive wins for the first time since the 1972-1973 season. They won their first four games that season.

The Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville touted their depth leading up to the shortened season. Toews believes they've shown that to be a real strength through three games.

"It's been a good thing the last couple of games; we've rolled four lines," said Toews, who is averaging 18:09 on the ice per game. "I think it's one of the things we're going to really try to reinforce with our team this year. Everyone can go out there and do a job whether it's a forward for the first line or you're checking their first line or not.

"We each rely on everybody to do certain things. When guys go out there, they have to know who they're up against. And we've really relied on that depth in the last three wins. With the amount of games we're playing, I think that's going to be a huge thing for us to keep playing at the high-paced hockey we've seen the first few games."

The Blackhawks' power play has also given them an advantage early on. The Blackhawks have scored one power-play goal in each of the first three games and have a 23.1 power-play percentage (3 for 13).

Last season, the Blackhawks ranked 26th in the NHL with a 15.2 power-play percentage. They scored 42 goals on 277 opportunities.

"For the most part, we just want to shoot more," Toews said. "We have two really even strong units who can go out there. Doesn't matter who is out there when we draw a penalty, we're going to have fresh legs going out for the 5 on 4 right away. Either unit can score.

"We keep shooting; we keep moving the puck well; we're going to work the penalty-killing units; we're going to get a lot chances, and we're going to get the results that we want. That goes with our 5-on-5 game. I think we're really focusing on work ethic. We have the skill that if we do those little things right that our skills are going to take over."

Toews also is happy to see the Blackhawks fans come out in full force and fill the United Center again on Tuesday. He wasn't sure if that would happen.

"It was amazing," Toews said. "It's the one thing you miss when you're away from the game so long. I made a few comments after the game last night that I really wasn't sure.

"I think as players most of us, we wouldn't blame the fans for their frustration with this whole ordeal. I think we've seen especially in Chicago the lockout is behind us. We want to go out there and play great hockey and put a show on for our fans. That's how we're going to earn their trust and earn our way back into their hearts, I guess."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
33 15 18 9
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 15
AssistsP. Kane 18
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 1.87