Jonathan Toews skated for the fifth consecutive day -- and practiced with teammates for the first time in nearly two weeks -- as the Blackhawks prepared to face the Nashville Predators at the United Center Sunday night.
Toews said he's feeling better with each passing day, and right now feels the way he did right before he suffered a setback about two weeks ago. And while he was looking at his potential return date on that first go-around, he said he's not doing that again this time. Still, he sees himself playing again before season's end.
"I was confident a week in that it wouldnt take much longer. It sucks that its taken this long but I feel this is it," said Toews. "Mentally Im positive and telling myself that well get through this. I'm not going to let the setbacks that have happened weigh me down."
Meanwhile, defenseman Duncan Keith talked about the five-game suspension the NHL handed him for his elbow to Daniel Sedin's head on Wednesday. Keith said he respects the league's decision -- he didn't want to get into details about the call, or Sedin's hit on him prior to his hit -- and will try to use the break as best he can.
"I want to keep sharp, want to keep in game shape. Ill do that," he said. "(I'll try to) get as much rest, eat properly, get lots of sleep and be working out with Paul (Goodman) and hopefully I can try to use it as my advantage, somehow."
Regarding Keith's hit, Toews said, "Youve seen the history between these two teams, how things are going both ways in that game. Again, you dont go into a situation like that intentionally trying to hurt the guy, knowing concussions and head injuries have become a big problem. But the reality is, those things happen when youre playing with an edge. Guys arent going to say theyre trying to hurt someone but when youre trying to hit someone really hard, especially against a team you have a history with like Vancouver, youre not going to let up. Unfortunately Duncs may have gone a little overboard there. It's a tough suspension, we all feel for him, but it is what it is and it happens."
Steve Montador (concussion) said he's been cleared for contact but there's still no set time for his return. Marcus Kruger (upper body) practiced with the Blackhawks on Saturday but is out for tomorrow night's game.
Corey Crawford will start against the Predators.