Jonathan Toews is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Chicago Blackhawks captain will not play in the final six regular-season games.
Toews was hurt in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Quenneville said at the time he didn’t think it was serious, and reiterated that on Tuesday night during a WGN Radio appearance. Still, with the Blackhawks secure for the postseason but needing their best players to be healthy and ready for the “second season,” shutting Toews down proved the best call.
“We’re going to be smart and make sure he’ll be 100 percent for the playoffs,” Quenneville said following Wednesday’s practice. “We want him rested, ready to play.”
When asked if Toews would play tomorrow if it was a playoff game, Quenneville said, “would he play, knowing Johnny Toews? No chance he’d be out.”
But this isn’t the playoffs. The Blackhawks are secure for the postseason berth, and as of now they would start on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado, which won on Tuesday night, has a three-point lead on the Blackhawks with a game in hand. The Blackhawks were already without Patrick Kane, who will also miss the rest of the regular season with a left-leg injury. Quenneville said Kane will get on the ice in the next couple of days.
As for playing without Toews, it’s certainly going to be a void. Quenneville said Andrew Shaw will draw some top-line duty in Toews’ absence. As far as getting through these last six without Toews, Quenneville said others will have to fill gaps.
“I like the opportunity for some to step up,” said Quenneville, who then talked about center Joakim Nordstrom, who was recalled this morning. “I liked Nordy today. He’ll get an opportunity in the middle. We’ll evaluate him as well; he can help kill penalties.”
The Blackhawks will get one body back, as Bryan Bickell is expected to play Thursday vs. the Minnesota Wild.
Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Michal Handzus all took “maintenance” days on Wednesday; Quenneville said they should all be fine for Thursday’s game. Corey Crawford will start.