Toews' recovery continues to progress

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Toews' recovery continues to progress

Every day Jonathan Toews pushes himself a little more on the ice. And every day, Toews feels hes getting that much closer to returning.

Toews skatedpracticed for the seventh consecutive day on Monday, as the Blackhawks captain continues to feel his concussion symptoms diminish. Still, Toews said he has a bit to go.

As you can tell Im still a ways off from game shape, he said. Obviously theres always going to be some adjustments in that first game I play, whenever that may be. Ill try to get as close as I can to where theres not much adjustment.

But the continued progress in skates and practices is encouraging.

Every day Im pushing myself a little bit harder. The harder I do go the better I feel. It gives me confidence knowing theres not much I can do to make it worse right now. Every day seems to be a step forward, which is a good thing.

Thats also a good thing for the Blackhawks, who are starting to see health come back to their lineup Steve Montador could return Tuesday and Marcus Kruger will play against the New Jersey Devils.

In watching and talking to (Toews), theres progress there, coach Joel Quenneville said. He feels better about where hes going, he adds more each day, he feels stronger and his attitudes been good. Well have a better idea (how close he is) when hes inserted into some contact.

Its been tough for Toews to be patient through this, to wait to get back into the lineup. But he feels hes close to taking full contact, and then playing wont be far behind.

You want to get back in there and help them out as much as you can and when you start to feel like youre getting over the hump, its tough to keep that emotion under control, Toews said. (But) Im feeling pretty close to (contact). The last few days Ive been feeling good.

Blackhawks, Tanner Kero agree to two-year contract extension

Blackhawks, Tanner Kero agree to two-year contract extension

The Blackhawks have agreed to terms with Tanner Kero on a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2018-19 campaign, the team announced Thursday.

Kero, 24, has five goals and seven assists in 38 games with the Blackhawks this season, along with six goals and nine assists in 55 games across two seasons.

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He has become a reliable, versatile forward on the bottom six for Joel Quenneville and has also played a role in the team's penalty-kill unit that has been terrific in March after a rough start to the year.

Kero signed a two-year deal that carries a $667,500 cap hit with the Blackhawks on April 2, 2015, as an undrafted free agent.

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns was like the rest of the Dallas Stars entering this season: he was optimistic, for his own game but also for the Stars, the team coming off a solid postseason and bringing a strong lineup back.

The season has been nothing but a disappointment, however, for the Stars, for a lot of their players and definitely for Johns, who has been in and out of the lineup.

“We have a pretty young team and most of these guys have played on teams that have always had the chance to win the championship of whatever league,” Johns said. “It’s tough for a lot of us right now. I’ve never been on a team that’s missed the playoffs. You have to stick together and get through it together and win as many games as you can. But it’s tough. It sucks.”

Johns will be a healthy scratch on Thursday when the Stars face the Blackhawks. The Stars are coming off a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks and, like most coaches, Lindy Ruff is hesitant to change a lineup after a victory. Johns has played in 55 games this season. For the 24-year-old defenseman who was considered a great present-and-future piece of the deal that sent he and Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks to the Stars in the summer of 2015, it’s been frustrating.

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“It’s all about confidence at this point and trying to find it,” Johns said. “It’s easy to lose your confidence and hard to get it back. It’s just finding it and sticking with it, blocking negative plays out and not letting it affect you, but it’s tough.”

It would be easy to think forward to next season. The Stars are all but eliminated from this postseason and, with some good health, perhaps they could get back to where they were in the 2015-16 season. Johns, too. Instead, he’ll focus on trying to make the final games of this season as positive as possible.

“You can’t look too far ahead into the future. Right now we have 10 games left and we just have to focus on those 10 games because nobody knows what’s going to happen in the summer,” Johns said. “It’s more about focusing this year on a positive note and then whatever happens, happens.”