Jonathan Toews moved his hands back and forth to display imaginary stick-handling skills while describing his technique on takeaways. "It's basically an art," Toews said while sitting at his dressing-room stall after a recent Blackhawks practice. "You just kind of sneak in there and try to be quiet and go right where he doesn't see you and take it right off his stick and skate away. It's pretty simple." After pausing for dramatic effect, the man they call "Captain Serious" added: "I'm just kidding, really." Toews and his Hawks teammates don't joke around when it comes to stripping pucks from opponents and lead the NHL by a wide margin with 230 takeaways this season. The Hurricanes rank a distant second with 178. Three Hawks ranked in the top 5 in the NHL in takeaways entering Monday', with Toews' 26 one behind leader Thomas Vanek of the Sabres. After the Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk with 24, the Hawks' Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane each have 23. The statistic isn't as glamorous as goals and assists, but the Hawks wouldn't be sporting a 19-0-3 record and franchise-record-tying nine-game winning streak heading into Tuesday night's game against the Wild at the United Center without their ability to take the puck away. Once the hilarity subsided, Toews got down to explaining what makes a player adept at takeaways. "Honestly, I think a lot of our guys in this room will say the same thing: It's just work ethic," Toews said. "It's moving your feet, getting after the guy and pressuring him. When guys are pressured, they're going to tend to maybe throw the puck away or do something they wouldn't normally do if they had more time."
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Chicago Tribune | Mar 5