Coyotes preparing for Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top lineContinue reading.
Coyotes get their licks in on Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, but he feels good
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jonathan Toews expected to be a target, so he wasn’t all that surprised that the Phoenix Coyotes gave him a few licks in Game 1 on Thursday.
At times, it looked like the Coyotes made it a point to rough up Toews after whistles and away from plays in his first game back after missing 22 in a row with a concussion.
Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, either.
“We’re trying to be physical with everybody,” Coyotes veteran Shane Doan said.
Doan got mixed up with Toews in the second period and seemingly slammed him to the ice behind the Coyotes’ goal.
“You recognize how incredibly good Jonathan Toews is,” Doan said. “He’s as good a player as there is in the league. If he doesn’t get hurt, he’s probably getting talked about for the Hart Trophy this year. He just does everything.
“Toews comes back after missing 22 games and has a goal and an assist and plays huge minutes and is a such a big part of their team. But we’re going to be physical with everyone. We have to be. We just can’t let them skate. They’ve got too much skill.”
Toews skated Friday as the Hawks held an optional skate at Jobing.com Arena. Afterward, he said he feels good despite all the physical play.
“I expected worse and that’s not too undershoot what happened [Thursday] night,” Toews said. “I’m going to be at the net. I’m going to be right there in front of the goalie every whistle and every chance they get they’re going to take shots. I expected that. It’s no big deal. I’m just happy with the way I dealt with it.
“[Thursday] night was a tough one to jump in to. I think that adrenaline and that excitement of playing in the playoffs and even just playing in your first game in a long time helps to kind of power through it. I think that way, physically, the worse is over, no more excuses. I’m looking forward to going out there and playing my game and not thinking too much and just letting things happen out there.”
The Coyotes outhit the Hawks 48-22, but that doesn’t matter too much. The Hawks still managed to get 45 shots on goalie Mike Smith. But the Coyotes did establish the physical tone to the series as Raffi Torres, Martin Hanzal and Rostislav Klesla were all involved. In the first period, Klesla shoved Toews head while he was down on the ice.
“Everybody’s getting the jitters out the first game and I’m sure there’ll be a lot more guys getting hits and both teams got to keep their heads up out there,” said Torres, who knocked out defenseman Brent Seabrook last season with a hit when he was with the Vancouver Canucks.
“We were stressing in the room that everybody’s got to play bigger and play stronger and play harder and last night was a good result of that. But you’ve got to expect them to come with it too.”
Hanzal, in particular, seemed to rattle the Hawks. He also scored the game-winner in overtime.
“Marty is hands down our unsung hero,” Doan said. “He doesn’t get really any of the attention that he deserves. As an outsider, people probably wouldn’t really notice him in our lineup much, but as a guy who is in this group, he’s probably our most valuable forward.
“He kills [penalties], he’s on the power play, he’s plays against the top line. He kind of really makes that line go with [Ray Whitney] and [Radim Vrbata]. That’s a legitimate No. 1 line with those two when he’s in the middle. He creates so much for everybody and, on top of that, he’s hard to play against. He’s physical. He has other teams mad at him and yet he’s 6-5, 240 pounds and there’s not a lot you can do to him. He’s so instrumental to our team.”