Blackhawks

Toews will play, Sharp questionable vs. Canucks

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Toews will play, Sharp questionable vs. Canucks

Updated: Monday, Jan. 30 at 9:59 p.m.

VANCOUVER The Chicago Blackhawks will need their injured stars healthy for this stretch run. Theyll get one back on Tuesday, and the other is pretty darn close.

Jonathan Toews will play and Patrick Sharp is questionable when the Blackhawks take on the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Toews, who suffered a left-arm injury against Florida and had it re-aggravated against Nashville, said he felt great during the teams practice Monday at Rogers Arena.

Sharp, who suffered a broken wrist when he was slashed scoring his 20th goal three weeks ago, could still play Tuesday but will have to see how he feels after morning skate.

Toews didnt go to the All-Star game festivities in Ottawa over the past four days. He said he hated to miss it, but those four days off were beneficial in helping him get better quickly.

Its one of those things that never bothered me enough to complain about it to begin with. I was just trying to take a shot against Florida tweaked it, and the next game (against Nashville) it just got worse, said Toews, who left that Jan. 21 game in the second period. Its one of those things, you walk around every day you may not feel it. But you shoot pucks and the little things, it kind of pops up on you. You try to be careful. I took care of it this week and I feel a lot better.

Sharp, meanwhile, could start against Vancouver. Monday was his first practice with the Blackhawks since he suffered the injury against Detroit on Jan. 8. He said he spent the All-Star break skating on his own.

Sharp said he didnt realize anything was wrong in that game until a few minutes after he scored the goal. He tried to take a few more shifts against the Red Wings, but it was worse and worse, he said.

(Monday) was the first tine I touched a puck since the injury but there are all kinds of precautionary things you have to go through, said Sharp, who did skate on the second line with Marian Hossa and new Blackhawks center Brendan Morrison. Id like to think (I could play tomorrow). Im a little rusty but, again, well see how it feels in the morning.

For Sharp, missing the past three weeks has been aggravating. He got hurt scoring his 20th goal of the season, and probably wouldve been an All-Star selection if not for the injury. Understandably, he wants to get back as soon as he can.

Its been tough but the teams played really well, he said. We had a tough (two games) with Nashville but a lot of different guys have stepped up last seven or eight games. Toews stayed red hot and the young guys played well. Hopefully I can get back into the lineup one of these days.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."