With a 4-1-1 record in their last six games, the Chicago Blackhawks probably aren’t quite panicking about Jonathan Toews’ absence anymore. Still, there’s no doubt that they’ve missed their versatile captain for the last 11 games, so GM Stan Bowman presents a good news/bad news proposition.
Craig Custance reports that Bowman believes that Toews won’t play against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, but he hasn’t ruled out a possible return against the Stars in Dallas on Friday or a home game versus the Washington Capitals on Sunday. At worst, Bowman stated that Toews is expected to be back within next week.
(Whether that means he’ll be back on March 20 against the Blue Jackets, March 21 against the Vancouver Canucks or even March 25 against the Nashville Predators remains to be seen … and is always subject to further change.)
With the Central Division crown just about guaranteed to be a jump ball between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, the Blackhawks ultimate target is probably a sixth seed, to be honest. That actually could be a pretty-much-ideal scenario at least considering the situation at hand, as that would limit the urge to rush Toews back too soon, give him time to get acclimated without feeling too much pressure and give Chicago a workable first round matchup against a likely flawed Pacific Division winner.
That’s not too awful an outlook, but most importantly, they need a healthy Toews to have a real shot in the playoffs. It sounds like we’ll have to wait a little longer to see if they’ll get that same guy back.
The Chicago Blackhawks don’t have a lot of holes at the forward position, but “No. 2 center” has been a glaring one for some time. Unfortunately for them, “No. 1 center” might be an issue now, too.
CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers reports that Jonathan Toews isn’t skating and that he won’t play on Wednesday. Perhaps the worse bit came from head coach Joel Quenneville, however, as he said that the 2010 Selke winner has made “no progress” in his recovery from what might be a concussion.
Speaking of worrisome Chicago concussion situations, Niklas Hjalmarsson is skating but won’t play in the Blackhawks’ contest vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs either, according to Myers.
Chicago is in sixth place in its conference with 73 points, but that’s far from a huge margin of error since they have either the same or less games remaining than the West’s bubble teams. To some, GM Stan Bowman’s lack of movement might become a huge mistake in light of Toews’ issues, but the flip side might just be that he believes that the team isn’t as close to being a legitimate contender as many think.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard will miss his third consecutive game tonight with an injury that isn’t totally clear to his team, according to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley.
Alain Vigneault said that the Canucks aren’t sure if it’s “neck-related or concussion-related.” Ballard is dealing with headaches but Vancouver is unsure of the root cause, so he’ll be out until the team’s doctors figure that out.
As Woodley points out, the line between concussion and neck-related injuries blurred in a high-profile way with Sidney Crosby’s neck issues, so it’s not surprising that the Canucks are handling this situation with kid gloves. The bigger surprise to some might be that Ballard’s a more prominent piece of the puzzle in Vancouver after being a fairly routine (and expensive) healthy scratch during the 2010-11 season and playoffs.