Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews practices but won’t play vs. Flyers

Jonathan Toews sounded somewhat frustrated but cognizant of the situation.

If it were the postseason there’s no doubt he would be playing right now. That’s not a surprise to hear, considering what hockey players put themselves through when the playoffs start. But this is early December. There are too many games remaining. And with it coming down to making sure he’s healthy for the long haul, it’s an easy call.

Toews practiced on Friday for the first time since being hurt, but he won’t travel to Philadelphia when the Blackhawks face the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. It will be the fifth consecutive game Toews has missed since he was hurt against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 23. Still, him skating on his own and then practicing with teammates for a few minutes is a good sign that Toews is closing in on a return.

“Just come back and check in again [Saturday], see how it is and hopefully, I guess as they say, re-evaluate for Sunday,” Toews said on Friday. “It’s never fun to miss any time, especially when the team is playing as many games as they are. So nice to get back out there and move around and get going a little bit.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Toews was placed on injured reserve on Friday, retroactive to Nov. 24, the day after he was injured.  Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Toews feels on Saturday and, “we’ll get a better idea going forward. But he’s not on the trip.”

“You gotta be fully recovered and want to make sure guys are 100 percent before they can play,” Quenneville said. “Jonny plays at a certain pace and it’s all out, so let’s make sure he’s more than ready when he’s coming back.”

Several have reported that Toews has a back injury, and the captain was doing several back stretches during Friday’s session. Toews left in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Sharks, moments after he went down awkwardly. But Toews said he wasn’t hurt on that play. 

“I think it was just something that started to aggravate in the first period. I tried playing in the second and that instance right there, just went down like a ton of bricks,” Toews said. “I was trying not to aggravate the injury more than I already had. That wasn’t where I got hurt; [it was] probably the instance people were looking for to see what the explanation was.”

If this were April and the playoffs were about to begin, Toews probably wouldn’t be as patient with his injury. But it isn’t, and he will be. It’s not worth making worse. The Blackhawks have managed to get points in his absence, going 3-0-1 so far.

“It’s the type of thing most guys would be able to suck up and play if it were a playoff game and putting everything on the line. But at this point, with the amount of games left in the season, it’s not something you want to continuously deal with,” he said. “If you aggravate it, it’ll keep coming back to haunt you. It’s tough to hold back and do less than you know you can, but in the long run, trying to make sure I get back to 100 percent.”

BRIEFLY

- Trevor van Riemsdyk was activated off the injured-reserve list and is expected to play against the Flyers.

- Marian Hossa took practice off. He is expected to play.

-  Corey Crawford will start vs. Philadelphia.

Blackhawks loan Henri Jokiharju to Finland for 2019 World Juniors

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AP

Blackhawks loan Henri Jokiharju to Finland for 2019 World Juniors

Henri Jokiharju has been one of the Blackhawks' most reliable defensemen this season. He ranks fourth on the club in even-strength ice time and is tied for second among team defensemen with 11 assists.

But at 19 years of age, he's eligible to play in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship for one last time and the Blackhawks loaned him to Team Finland on Tuesday to do exactly that. It's a chance to go up against the elite players at his own age from around the world and play in every situation.

"It's a great opportunity for him but also for our team," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're thinking about what kind of player he's going to be months down the road and years down the road. It's a chance for him to go there and be, if not the top player, one of the top players and help lead them to success, being a leader and being a top, top guy. You don't get those chances very often. He'll have the opportunity to be a big part of their team and make a lot of plays.

"He's a confident kid, but get more swagger in his game. Then when he comes back here he can contribute even more to our team."

Jokiharju recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in five games for Finland during last year's tournament; his four points ranked tied for first on his country's blue line. Finland's run ended in disappointing fashion, getting upset by the Czech Republic 4-3 in a shootout in the quarterfinals.

Jokiharju is expected to be a leader on this year's team, which is hoping to bounce back in a big way and make a real run at the championship. And the Blackhawks like that idea for his development, even though it takes away a key part of their back end.

"We're going to build this team to the highest level we can," Colliton said. "It's the best thing now for our team and also for him. If we're going to win, we need him to be a big part of our success, and so this is the right thing for his development. Then it's a no-brainer.

"He wants to be here. He wants to play in the NHL. It's the highest level. But he gets the chance to play for his country. Like we told him, they're so excited to have him. It's a lot of responsibility for him. It can really help him grow as a person and a leader and a player. He's got to embrace the opportunity, but I think he will and it can be a great experience for him."

The tournament will run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2019 in Vancouver.

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Blackhawks vs. Predators: Start time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Blackhawks vs. Predators: Start time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Chicago Blackhawks got a big win against the Pittsburgh Penguins but have since dropped two games. The Blackhawks are looking to stop this skid to become a full on losing streak against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they'll be without goaltender Corey Crawford, who was put on injured reserve after sustaining a head injury on Sunday night. Cam Ward will become the top goaltender and the Blackhawks recalled Collin Delia to get into the rotation as well.

Here is everything you need to know to watch all the Blackhawks coverage on NBC Sports Chicago.

HOW TO WATCH

ON TV: NBC Sports Network

Desktop/Laptop: NBCSportsChicago.com

Mobile/Tablet: MyTeams App by NBC Sports

TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Blackhawks Pregame Live presented by ChevyDrivesChicago.com
7:30 PM: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
10:00 PM: Blackhawks Postgame Live presented by Hyundai

GENERAL INFO

WHERE: United Center, Chicago, IL
WHEN: December 17, 7:30 p.m.

ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 7:00 p.m., Blackhawks Pregame Live presented by ChevyDrivesChicago.com gets you ready for the game with Pat Boyle in studio with Patrick Sharp, Adam Burish and Steve Konroyd. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

IN BETWEEN PERIODS: Tune in to watch Boyle, Sharp, Burish and Konroyd breakdown the action after each period. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, stay tuned for Blackhawks Postgame Live presented by Hyundai for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch NBC Sports Chicago or click here for the livestream.

DURING THE GAME, FOLLOW US

Blackhawks Talk: @NBCSBlackhawks
NBC Sports Chicago: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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