Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews cautiously optimistic he’ll return soon

Jonathan Toews cautiously optimistic he’ll return soon

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.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

Mark Lazerus and Hub Arkush join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Corey Crawford’s return and what it means for the team’s playoff chances.

Khalil Mack misses practice again. The guys debate if it would be better to leave him out vs. the Patriots.

The latest on the MLB playoffs with controversy in Houston and gamesmanship by the Brewers.

Will Perdue and Kendall Gill join the panel to discuss Kris Dunn’s absence from the opener and the team’s playoff chances this season.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.