Blackhawks, Toews leave little doubt in 4-1 win over Sharks - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks, Toews leave little doubt in 4-1 win over Sharks

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks left little doubt which team was the best on Friday night as they rolled over the San Jose Sharks 4-1. Jonathan Toews also wanted to leave little doubt he could stand up for himself when needed. In a move that won't make much sense to many, Toews hit the 6'4" Joe Thornton from behind which drew a penalty. Then the Hawks captain goaded Thornton into a fight and the Sharks captain finally dropped his gloves and accepted the challenge.

Some fans will think it was a dumb move on the part of Toews. As is well-known, Toews can't afford to get another concussion and fighting a player who has a significant size advantage is risky. If Toews would have caught a few shots to the head and be forced to miss considerable playing time, as was the case last season, the Hawks high flying start may be wasted.

All that is probably true but there comes a point when a player has to say enough is enough. On Friday night Toews reached the conclusion, he needed to respond. Here are some post game comments courtesy of in which Toews explains his motives.

"I think the last handful of games (versus San Jose), including last season, there's always some stuff going on, whether it's after the whistle or during the play, it just comes down to the players maybe trying to get under your skin and test you a little bit. I figured at some point I had to stand up for myself."

When I think of Toews being manhandled by an opponent, the game last February 10 in San Jose comes to mind. Thornton, who is known as a player who won't drop his gloves was dishing out some punishment to Toews. It was actually embarrassing to watch as Thornton, who prefers to throw punches with his gloves on, was using the head of Toews like a speed bag. Toews couldn't protect himself from Jumbo Joe as he caught about three good raps to the head and face. Later that same game, the Sharks Ryane Clowe also took out some of his frustration on the head of Toews.

Many believe, and maybe Toews too, the punishment he took then led to his concussion. Toews kept playing through February 19 but then was out of action for about seven weeks. So Friday night was the time Toews concluded he needed to stand up to Thornton and anyone else out there thinking he won't come back to retaliate.

Thornton isn't a fighter as he does his best work with his stick and gloves after whistles. He is a big man but really has developed a reputation for being a sneaky player that won't drop his gloves to settle disputes. It took the much bigger Thornton awhile to respond to the challenge of Toews. If we were scoring the fight, it wasn't much to watch, Thornton would be declared the winner on points but that didn't matter.

The point Toews made, hopefully without suffering another concussion, was more significant than actually winning the fight. Toews has been around long enough, he knew this was something he needed to do on his own. Toews was sent to the penalty box with four more minutes in penalties than Thornton, but that didn't matter either.

The Hawks killed off the long San Jose power play and a short time later, Dave Bolland scored and the Hawks never looked back. The team responded as they had their captain's back.

Hockey is the ultimate team sport but within that framework comes many individual battles. Winning or losing a fight doesn't mean as much as being willing to respond to a challenge. If Thornton, the Sharks or anyone else had doubts about Toews being willing to fight his own battles, they now think differently.

Al's Shots

Corey Crawford missed Friday night's contest and Ray Emery did another fine job.

The word on Crawford is he suffered a concussion on Tuesday night, after being banged into by the Anaheim Ducks Bobby Ryan. There wasn't a penalty called on the play as Brent Seabrook was the one who pushed Ryan into Crawford.

Crawford is officially listed as day to day with an upper body injury.

Marcus Kruger continues to light it up versus San Jose. Kruger isn't known for his scoring but now has goals in five of six games against the Sharks.

Kruger has one glaring weak point and that is his inability to win faceoffs. He was only 3-for-9 versus the Sharks. That said Kruger has had a very good year. He is a main reason, along with Michael Frolik as to why the Hawks penalty killing unit has been superb. Both players need to be given high marks as the importance of killing penalties can't be overlooked.

Andrew Shaw scored a power play goal due to his hard work and willingness to get his nose dirty.

The third and fourth lines for the Hawks have contributed in some way in every game. Whether it is by playing sound defense or chipping in with an occasional goal the bottom six forwards deserves a lot of credit for the great start this season.

The Hawks will look to keep it going on Sunday afternoon versus the LA Kings who are riding a two game winning streak.

The Kings and the Hawks are both resting Saturday. Most likely it will be Emery in net looking to extend the Blackhawks unbeaten streak.

I will be back on Monday to discuss Sunday's contest.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia

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