According to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews is “progressing” but not quickly enough to return to the ice Thursday night against Dallas.
While one radio outlet reported that Toews was suffering from concussion-like symptoms, the Hawks stuck with the company line of “upper-body injury” and said the captain will miss his second consecutive game.
“He’s day to day,” Quenneville said of Toews, who leads the team in goals (29) and ranks second with 57 points in 59 games.
“When you don’t have Johnny in your lineup it’s a concern,” Quenneville said. “The minutes, the importance and the leadership. It’s always important when your top players aren’t there.
“We’re hopeful he’s going to be back quick.”
While Toews is a no-go Thursday, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson practiced for the fourth straight day and looks like he may be a go against the Stars.
“He feels good,” Quenneville said. “We’re hopeful he’s playing (Thursday).”
Hjalmarsson has missed seven games, also with the dreaded upper-body injury.
“It feels better, so we’ll see,” a guarded Hjalmarsson said after Wednesday’s practice.
Corey Crawford is suddenly hot again.
The Hawks goalie stopped 31 of 32 shots against the Detroit Red Wings for his fourth consecutive victory and has posted a .958 save percentage over his last four starts, turning aside 115 of 120 shots.
What has been the difference, technically speaking?
“I’m more in control,” said Crawford, who will make his fifth straight start Thursday. “I’m a little bit deeper to start the play and I can attack and be aggressive going forward instead of constantly going backwards.
“I was making a lot of plays where I was moving back. Before this streak it was a little worse than usual where I was overplaying things and it was ending up in goals we could have avoided.”
Stat of the day:
Andrew Brunette, who picked up his 11th assist of the season on the game-winning goal Tuesday, could only shake his head in disbelief when told the Hawks are 20-1-0 when he registers a point.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” he said.
“Must be,” he said with a laugh.
Hot, hot, hot:
Don’t look now but Marcus Kruger is on fire with 4 goals in his last seven games, including the game-winner Tuesday against Detroit.
Oh, and he’s also plus-6 during the Hawks’ four-game winning streak.
“I’m just trying to play my game, as I’ve done all season,” he said. “It’s always nice to score goals and stuff like that, but I’m just trying to play my game.”
That includes crashing the net, if necessary.
“When you don’t score other ways, you have to go there to get a few goals,” he said.
He said it:
“I think it’s been a conscious effort by the whole group. During the losing streak we weren’t playing with the desperation the other teams have this time of year. If you don’t bring the desperation in those games, you lose those games.”
— Andrew Brunette, on the Hawks’ improved defense of late.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.