As if there was any doubt, Jonathan Toews said ahead of Saturday's preseason finale that he "absolutely" feels ready to play in the Blackhawks' season opener on Wednesday in Colorado.
"I plan to play, but it's not my decision," Toews said smiling. "But I don't think that's up in the air, I'm pretty sure."
Toews, who missed the entire 2020-21 campaign with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome, has appeared in four preseason games, counting Saturday, and logged 22:48 of ice time in the team's preseason opener. He said he felt "a little worried, a little panicky" a week or two before training camp, but feels like his conditioning has progressively gotten better since then and he's confident with where his game is at.
"It's almost good to get thrown into the mix and just have to sink or swim," Toews said. "I think the first preseason game I had over 20 minutes by quite a bit actually. Sometimes you've got to burn the candle at both ends and find a way to respond and recover. You've got to jump into it at some point, so that's kind of what I'm doing and I think the recovery and everything else will come along with it."
The Blackhawks haven't discussed any load-type management with Toews this season and are simply going to take it day-by-day. They've already given him a couple of maintenance days in practice throughout training camp, and you have to think that'll be something the Blackhawks explore during the grind of an 82-game schedule.
"I'm pretty happy, given what the last month has looked like and what I felt like going into training camp," Toews said. "I just feel like I've taken a step almost every day, so it's pretty exciting to think that way. I've got to stay with it and keep doing all the little things right, but ultimately I like that I feel confident, my game is there, my energy is there, so I've just got to keep taking care of my body."