The day after: Toews feels great; lineup changes coming?


The day after: Toews feels great; lineup changes coming?

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jonathan Toews felt great after his first game back and the Phoenix Coyotes may be without Radim Vrbata as the Blackawks and Coyotes prepared for Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Toews took some hard knocks from the Coyotes in Game 1, his first game after missing the final 22 regular-season contests with a concussion. But the Blackhawks captain had a smile on his face and pronounced himself feeling good after that tough first game.

"I feel much better than last night," Toews said Friday, after participating in the Blackhawks' optional practice. "Last night was a tough one to jump into but I think that adrenaline, that excitement of playing in the playoffs, and even (playing) the first game in a long time, helps you power through it. Physically, the worst is over. I'm looking forward to playing my game and not thinking too much and letting things happen."

Meanwhile, the Coyotes are waiting to see how Vrbata, their top goal-scorer, is doing. Vrbata suffered an upper-body injury when Andrew Shaw hit him early in Thursday's game. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Vrbata was at the arena today and did work out. He is listed as day to day. Tippett wasn't sure today what the Coyotes' lines would be like if Vrbata can't play tomorrow night.

"Weve done some work here this morning and well keep monitoring what we think works for us and what might fall into place for us," he said. "We'll look at different matchups, scenarios that try to get you some rhythm in the game. Theres enough there we can grab onto, but I'm not sure where our lineups going to be tomorrow yet."

The Blackhawks could also have some lineup changes.

"Well look at some options," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have five guys here who want to play as well, so well see."

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”


Javy Baez flaunts epic World Series tattoo

Javy Baez flaunts epic World Series tattoo

Javy Baez should win a gold glove in tattoos.

The kid with the MLB logo inked on the back of his neck now has an absolutely epic 2016 World Series Champions tattoo on his left deltoid:

That. Is. Awesome.

Javy apparently has had the tattoo for a little while, though it wasn't quite as eye-popping as it is now (or what we could see of it back in January):

😎 Find The #W #JB9 #ElMago

A post shared by Javier Báez ⚾ (@javy23baez) on

That's some good ink work, Javy.

Now just make sure you don't spend too much time in the gym working on those delts. That tattoo would look awfully weird stretched out: