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Jonathan Toews talked with some optimism but not certainty.

He hopes that his back injury is improving for good this time. He hopes he’ll be with the Blackhawks when they head to New York this week.

“The frustrating thing is you keep getting asked the question and you feel like the next game is going to be the game you’re getting back and there’s only so many times you can keep giving yourself and others bad news,” said Toews.

You can understand Toews’ frustration. After suffering his injury on Nov. 23 in San Jose, Toews skated on Dec. 2 and thought he was going to return soon. Then he was kept off the ice when the injury wasn’t getting any better; Sunday marked the first time in more than a week that Toews has skated.

Again, it’s all about being careful. Toews is encouraged by his latest go-around, at least immediately following it. “It’s almost just putting pressure and just trying anything that I could out there to do those uncomfortable movements, and I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said.

Coach Joel Quenneville reiterated the proceed-with-caution mantra.

“It’s certainly good to get him on the ice. We feel he can be close but we want to make sure there’s some certainty that he’s going to be fine and we’re not going to go backward on this one,” he said. “So let’s make sure we’re all clear going forward.”


The Blackhawks have done all right in the meantime, going 4-2-2 in Toews’ absence. They’ve also been without Corey Crawford for four of those games and Brent Seabrook for one. All three are out tonight against the Dallas Stars.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It’s been frustrating for Toews to sit and just watch these last few weeks. He’s hopeful that he’s finally turning the corner but until that’s for certain, he’s going to concentrate on what he can do to get better.

“I guess that’s always a tough thing when you feel like you’re getting close and all of a sudden you get back on the ice and you realize you’re still a ways off from being ready to play in a game,” Toews said. “[You know] that you need to get back to doing what you were doing to try and recover and make sure you are making progress and you’re not digressing on the ice.”