Speak softly and carry a big stick: Jonathan Toews' plan for Blackhawks in Game 5
There are captains who lead their teams with loud pregame speeches and motivational talks -- think Mark Messier in his Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers days -- and there are captains who lead by quiet, tireless example, like Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom or the Ducks’ Scott Niedermayer.
One method isn’t better than the other. The effectiveness of the leadership depends on the captain’s personality and his team’s temperament.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews falls into the quiet-leader category, but on Sunday he had some strong words about himself and his team as they approached Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals at the United Center.
The Blackhawks won the first two games, at home, but lost the next two at Philadelphia, the first time in this playoff run that they had lost two games in a row. Toews’ comments were all the more powerful because he didn’t yell or throw anything but spoke with a controlled and unmistakable intensity.
“There’s no more time to waste. It’s time to bring everything you’ve got,” he said after the Blackhawks’ morning skate.
“We’ve got to believe that it’s ours and it truly is. We’ve just got to find a way to go out there and take it. It’s down to a best-of-three series and no better way to start that than at home.
“You don’t play this far into the season into June for nothing. I think we can all as teammates and as a team look at each other and I think we can dig a little deeper and find a little extra something there. Because we know as a team how good we are and we haven’t reached that limit yet. So we only have three more games to do that.”
To change his team’s look and generate more offense, Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville reconfigured his lines late in the team’s 5-3 loss at Philadelphia on Friday, taking Patrick Kane off the top line and replacing him with Andrew Ladd alongside Toews and Dustin Byfuglien. Kane played with Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg.
Toews said he didn’t know who will be on his line Sunday night and Quenneville said only he’d look at tweaking the lines “a little bit” again.
Whatever combinations he uses, it’s imperative that the Blackhawks hold serve at home before returning to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Wednesday. A seventh game, if necessary, will be played Friday at the United Center.
“It was tough to play in that building. Especially when you’re taking penalties, Toews said of returning to Philadelphia. "You get down a couple goals in the first period it’s always more difficult to come back.
“We’ll deal with that problem when we go back there but for now we know we have to take full advantage of being back home.”
More in a bit from Flyers forward (and former King) Ian Laperriere -- and more on Game 5 later at www.latimes.com/sports
--Helene Elliott, reporting from Chicago
Photo: Chicago's Jonathan Toews chips the puck past Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger in Game 4 on Friday in Philadelphia. Credit: Barbara Johnston / US Presswire