Toews appears ready to play in Game 1
April, 11, 2012
By Jesse Rogers | ESPNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A final full practice for the Chicago Blackhawks before they take on the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinals matchup saw captain Jonathan Toews run all drills for a third day in a row.
Toews says he feels no affects from the concussion that sidelined him for the final 22 games of the regular season.
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireJonathan Toews participated fully in practice for the third straight day on Wednesday.
“I think I’m right there,” Toews said after practice at Jobing.com arena on Wednesday. “It’s another day of feeling better and better and getting back to where I want to be as far as how I want to play a game.”
All week Toews has said he’ll wait until Thursday to announce if he’s playing but everything points to him being back in the lineup.
“The kind of the goal we set for ourselves with the training staff and the doctors, we’re going to make that decision [Thursday],” Toews said.
As open as Toews has been about his concussion there is little doubt the opposing team has taken notice. And it means Toews will need eyes in the back of his head.
“I don’t doubt that that’s going to put a target on my back, especially with this team; they like to play physical,” Toews said. “For any guy that is coming back from any sort of injury you don’t want to let him feel comfortable out there. I’m expecting it’s going to be even tougher than usual. That’s the way it is. Just go out there and play a gritty and smart game and keep things simple and make things happen out there.”
Noted tough guy Raffi Torres of the Coyotes wasn’t giving any bulletin board material when asked about the return of a concussed player after missing 22 games.
“Toews is too good of a player to knock off his game,” Torres said. “You just have to try and make it uncomfortable for him out there. That’s hard to do … He knows what it takes to be successful.”
The final hours: Both teams have had more than enough time to prepare for each other but the nitty-gritty work is still to come.
“Lots of meetings, lots of preparations,” Patrick Sharp said of the final 24 hours before game time. “I think everyone is excited to go through that and take what we can from it, but at the same time we just have to be ready to play Game 1.”
Though the Hawks employ a young lineup, if it stays as it’s been throughout the week at practice, then only two players -- Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig -- will be making their postseason debuts.
“We’ve had meetings everyday over the course of the week. We want to get playing here,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You can only say so much. It’s time to play. I think the guys are ready, they’re enthused. I think we want to make sure [they’re] not too excited out there. You want to make sure there is a purpose to your game.”
At the end of the day the Hawks believe -- as all playoff teams do -- they have as good a chance as anyone to go far this spring.
“I said it earlier in the week, you look at the Western Conference, I wouldn’t be surprised if any one team out of the eight wins the conference,” Sharp said. “Why can’t our name be in there as well? We have a good group here. We have a lot of experience. We love playing with each other. But you can say as much stuff as you want before the game; it comes down to what happens on the ice. And I think we’re ready to go.”