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Early exit has Jonathan Toews wondering what he ‘could’ve done differently’

The Blues eliminated the defending champion Blackhawks in a Game 7 thriller in St. Louis to move on to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jonathan Toews is still on the right side of 30, but he’s had enough clutch moments to last a lifetime. The ‘Hawks captain owns three Stanley Cup rings, a Conn Smythe trophy and two Olympic golds. No one can ever call his “clutch-ness” into question, right? Well, maybe not.

In the aftermath of Chicago’s Game 7 loss to the St. Louis Blues, many around the hockey world are wondering why Jonathan Toews was so quiet in the series and in the deciding game.

The 27-year-old’s overall production was far from terrible. He registered a point in all but one of the seven games of the series. He also played over 20 minutes in each game and averaged 22:41 in the series. The problem? He failed to find the back of the net in all seven contests.

“There’s always second-guessing and thinking what you could’ve done differently,” Toews said after the elimination loss, per CSN Chicago. “I like to think I had my chances and times in the past. Kept telling myself, I think it was going to be an important time where I find a way to score a big one and right to the end I was telling myself that on those last draws in their zone. Just didn’t get to the puck. Obviously it’s kind of tough to think of what you could’ve done differently in those situations to alter the result.”

In the dying moments of the game, with the ‘Hawks trailing 3-2, many expected Toews to get the job done. It simply didn’t happen.

“There wasn’t much to be had out there,” Toews said, per the Sun-Times. “When I had my chances and you have to find a way to put them home. Just wasn’t happening obviously and again, [the Blues] worked hard. It’s a tough team, as everyone said throughout this series.”

In seven games, Chicago got more goals from Andrew Shaw (4) than they got from Toews, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin combined (3). Shaw is a good player, but if you have Stanley Cup aspirations, he probably shouldn’t be leading your team in goals.

Most players would kill to have six points in seven playoff games, but Toews isn’t “most players”. He’s set a high standard for himself and for his organization.

It might be hard to accept right now, but a long off-season might help the Blackhawks reload for the next year.