Jonathan Toews playing in Game 1
Toews practiced Thursday morning and declared himself fully recovered from a concussion that sidelined him for the final 22 regular-season games.
"I've stuck with the program all week and with the trainers we definitely made the decision I feel comfortable playing," Toews said after practice. "It's time to go; I'm excited about it."
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Toews had 29 goals and 28 assists in 59 games before leaving the lineup on Feb. 19.
"I don't think I've gone through anything like this in my career where its touch-and-go for just (under) two months," Toews said. "You don't really know when you're going to feel 100 percent, but these last couple of weeks have been very good. I've worked really hard not only to get over this but to feel ready and well enough to play game. Really happy about that."
The last time Toews missed this much time was his rookie year, 2007-2008. He sprained his knee on New Years Day against the Los Angeles Kings and missed the next 16 games. He had five points in his first three games back from that injury.
"He rises to all occasions," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Emotionally, it's good for our team to have him back. It's a good place to start. Game 1."
Marcus Kruger will start between Patrick Sharp and Viktor Stalberg while Dave Bolland will skate with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. The fourth line consists of Jamal Mayers, Andrew Brunette and Brandon Bollig. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will team on defense as will Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Sean O'Donnell are the Hawks third pair.
The Coyotes counter with a top line of Ray Whitney, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. Antoine Vermette will center for Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker while Daymond Langkow plays between Raffi Torres and Gilbert Brule. Boyd Gordon is the fourth line center with Taylor Pyatt and Lauri Korpikoski.
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