Toews to miss ninth straight game, no timetable for return

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Toews to miss ninth straight game, no timetable for return

Jonathan Toews was feeling good after his second straight day on the ice. But the captain, whos recovering from a concussion, knows the competitor in him will just have to wait until hes properly healed.

Toews skated with his Blackhawks teammates on Friday morning, but he said he has no timetable for when he may return. The captain will miss his ninth consecutive game and said hes just concentrating on getting 100 percent again.

I feel pretty good, Toews said. I feel like Ive been off the ice doing nothing for three weeks, but considering the last two days on the ice Im lot better than I thought I would be. Im pretty positive about that.

Coach Joel Quenneville was also encouraged by Toews back-to-back skates but said theres still no definitive timeline.

We said once you get him on the ice it would be a better indication when he could be close to getting back. But its significant progress in a short amount of time, Quenneville said. Lets hope were on the same program for a little while here.

Toews said he couldnt pinpoint what hit or moment specifically triggered his concussion; his last game, Feb. 19 against St. Louis, he played in its entirety. He said he was feeling off the last few games of the teams nine-game road trip but it was one of those things that was so minor at first that it took some time to realize it was something more serious.

When it comes down to that, you hate to admit it to yourself, he said. You see so many guys around the league dealing with it and you dont want to be one of those guys. I had to rest and get better.

To make matters worse Toews had a one-car accident on Feb. 23 downtown. Asked if that exacerbated his concussion, Toews said, not at all.

A lot of people want to tie that in there with this injury but when it rains it pours. I had a rough week and throw that in there with it, he said. Its one of those embarrassing things I didnt want to get out of my car for a long time.

Toews said hell take as long as he needs to reach 100 percent again. Hell see how he feels with everything, from when he gets up in the morning to how he reacts to workouts and skating. And hell have to pass the tests, too.

Concussions have become a big NHL concern in recent years. The Blackhawks have had their share of it lately from Toews to Niklas Hjalmarsson to Steve Montador. And everyone reacts different: Hjalmarsson returns tonight against the New York Rangers; Montador skated some last week but is not this week, and may have taken a step back in his recovery.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has struggled for more than a year to come back from his. Toews said hes texted with Crosby the two have the same agent but doesnt put himself in the same category right now.

Were not at that point where Im worried Im not going to make a recovery in the next little while, Toews said. It hasnt crossed my mind to start thinking about the next step and what we might have to do to make sure it heals properly.

Toews competitive side has struggled through this down time. But the thought of coming back too soon keeps him focused.

I think youd still be serious about it if it was the first time for any player. But since its not for myself, the level of urgency goes up a little bit, he said. It takes a lot of discipline to do that right now since its exciting to be back on the ice and you want to start playing right away. Ill make sure Im 100 percent when I come back and Im reducing the risk of it ever happening again.

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews set up the game-winning goal to Brad Marchand as Team Canada rallied back to beat Europe, 2-1, to complete the two-game sweep in the final at the World Cup of Hockey.

After Patrice Bergeron tied the game with a tip-in on the power play late in the third period, Drew Doughty was sent to the box for tripping, giving Europe a power play for a chance to respond.

But midway through the man advantage, the Blackhawks captain retrieved the puck and carried it into Europe territory before dropping it off to Marchand, who snapped home the shorthanded game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was the second goal in a span of 2:09, helping Canada capture their second straight World Cup title (2004).

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament after scoring four goals and seven assists in six games. 

Toews was fourth among all players in the tournament with five points (three goals and two assists).

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson looked around the Blackhawks’ room at where fellow defensemen stalls would probably be as the season approached.

“You have Brian (Campbell) back, (Michal) Kempny here, obviously and all the other guys,” Gustafsson said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like it.”

The Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles heel last season was defense, especially after Trevor Daley was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That opened the door for young players, including Gustafsson, to get bigger opportunities. This year the defense should be stronger with Campbell’s return. So for guys like Gustafsson, cracking this lineup just got that much tougher.

During the summer, assistant coach Mike Kitchen talked potential pairings as Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Campbell-Brent Seabrook, Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk. As of now, the team is expecting Keith to be ready for the season opener. Keith has been participating in a practice a day but whether or not he plays in any preseason games is uncertain right now.

If it starts out that way, Gustafsson would be on the outside looking in.

But first things first: Gustafsson is focused on building off experience gained last season — he played 41 games, recording 14 assists — and cleaning up a few errors committed in training camp practices.

“You know all the guys on the team, you know how they want to play over here and in the NHL. Just go out and show them. I didn’t do that [Saturday] but this was the first game,” Gustafsson said. “I felt good with the puck but I have to play more defense in my own zone. Just a couple of small things I have to be better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nothing comes easy when you’re trying to make an NHL roster but it got that much tougher for a young defenseman with the Blackhawks this season. Hey, that’s the way it is, and players know it.

“Of course it’ll be tougher,” Gustafsson said. “It won’t be easy to take a spot. You just have to go out there, do your best and see what happens.”

BRIEFLY

- Patrick Kane could play in the Blackhawks’ game against St. Louis on Saturday. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said, “don’t be surprised to see 88 politicking to get in the lineup. Pretty good chance we’ll see him on Saturday."

- The Blackhawks were off on Thursday. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger and Hjalmarsson were expected to join the team at Friday’s practice

- Alexandre Fortin, who signed a three-year contract on Sunday, played 12 1/2 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That included about two minutes of power-play time. Dineen wouldn’t mind seeing Fortin in another game. “He showed himself well all camp and I think [Wednesday] we saw some good spurts out there, and we’ll find that consistency in a young player as we move forward.”