After a strong day of practice on Monday, it looks like there is a good possibility that Jonathan Toews is going to be ready to hit the ice for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Toews hasn’t played since February 19th, with a concussion that has held him out. Though he was recently cleared for contact, the symptoms were still appearing whenever he was on the ice.
Though the Blackhawks had success without Toews, with just two regulations losses since the beginning of March, a deep run without one of the best, if not the best, two-way center in the game on the top line seems unlikely.
Hopefully, this means they won’t have to worry about that now. Toews spent Monday’s practice centering a top line that included Patrick Kane on his left, and Marian Hossa on his right. Though the Hawks like Kane in the middle, the second line of Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger, and Viktor Stalberg has thrived of late, meaning those lines could look just like that on Thursday.
The value of Toews to the Blackhawks cannot be overstated. The team obviously has plenty of scoring without him, but he does it all as the team’s top line center. He wins draws, plays on both special teams, and is great in his own zone.
It should be a big boost, both mentally and on the ice, for this Blackhawks team. They were playing well and with confidence to end the season, and that should increase now, assuming he returns.
You do hope that Toews isn’t rushing back simply because he wants to get in on postseason action, but the fact that he was being very honest with himself about his state should hopefully mean that he is ready to go on Thursday.