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Monday, April 9, 2012
Jonathan Toews waiting on decision

By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews won't decide until Thursday if he'll play in Game 1 of Chicago's Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes.

But all signs are pointing to Toews returning for the playoffs Thursday from a concussion which sidelined him for the final 22 regular season games.

"Wanted to err on the cautious side by me not playing (at the end of the regular season)," Toews said after practice on Monday. "I'm feeling more confident Thursday might be the day but we'll see."

When asked directly if he would play in Game 1, Toews responded, "I'm not sure about that yet. We still have a few days. Being on a line with (Patrick) Kane and (Marian) Hossa was a good feeling. I felt good today. Like I said, I keep progressing. We'll see come Thursday."

Toews centered the two stars with Kane moving to left wing, a position he hasn't played in several years. Kane's move there is a further indication Toews is ready to return.

Sharp said if Toews is able to play, he expects he'll be effective against Phoenix.

"I've been out for long stretches and then came back," said Sharp, who was sidelined earlier with a wrist injury. "I anticipate him to come back and pick up right where he left off. ... He's a great player. He's played well in the playoffs in the past and he's a big part of our team so we welcome him back with open arms if he's able to play."

Toews acknowledged there might be some rust to his game.

"Probably a little bit but hopefully it doesn't last too long," he said. "Whenever I make that commitment, I'll have that mindset where I want to keep it simple and just go out there and play a gritty game. The key is not trying to do too much."

The Blackhawks were 13-5-4 without Toews in the lineup as they secured the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Coach Joel Quenneville says it's up to Toews if he's ready to play.

"We're hopeful that's the case," Quenneville said. "We put him on a line there today thinking that if he does play that's where he will play. ... Organizationally, there is all the hurdles to cross along the way and he's passed them all. We'll visit with him as we go along the next few days."

Toews had 29 goals and 28 assists in 59 games before the injury.

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.