Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Wednesday again asserted what he has been saying about injured center Jonathan Toews since that fateful Sunday night in Pittsburgh when the captain took a thumping along the boards at the hands -- and shoulders -- of Brooks Orpik.
"He's day to day," Quenneville said after the Hawks' first practice since the incident.
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Evidently the definition of day to day has changed a bit because when it comes to Toews' status, day to day means from today until the first day of the postseason.
"We're not going to play him for the rest of these six games, so he'll be ready to go," Quenneville said. ""We're going to be smart and make sure he's going to be 100 percent, and he will be 100 percent for the playoffs."
But until then?
"Obviously when you lose a centerman with Toews' capabilities, it's tough to replace," Kris Versteeg said. "We just have to find ways to get wins without him and Kane right now.
"Dig deep. You see other teams in the league, they lose guys and they find ways to do it, so we're going to have to do the same."
Added Marcus Kruger: "Toews plays a lot of big minutes, so a lot of guys are going to have to step up here. We have to get on the winning side of things and play better."
It couldn't get much worse than the Hawks' recently completed three-game trip in which the wheels completely came off to the tune of an 0-3 record.
Add to that the fact that now they'll be sans Toews and Kane for the remainder of the regular season, thus making it quite a feat to try to catch -- and surpass -- Colorado for home-ice advantage.
The Avalanche beat Columbus on Tuesday night to increase its lead on the Hawks to 3 points.
"No matter who you are, you're out there playing, so let's make sure we're focusing on the right things." Quenneville said. "By doing that, we should be able to find some points and put ourselves in position to win some hockey games."
The center of attention for the rest of the regular season figures to be Andrew Shaw, who is slated to replace Toews on the top line. In addition, the Hawks recalled Joakim Nordstrom from the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday as a reinforcement.
"We're certainly going to find out (about our depth at center)," Quenneville said. "It might be an opportunity for some guys stepping up. I liked his (Nordstrom's) practice today. He'll get an opportunity in the middle."
In addition to Toews, other Hawks not on the ice Wednesday at Johnny's IceHouse included Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Michal Handzus, all of whom were taking "maintenance days," according to Quenneville.
It's not all gloom and doom on the injury front, however. It appears that defensemen Michal Rozsival (lower body) could be back in the lineup Friday against Columbus, while big Bryan Bickell will be back Thursday night against Minnesota.
"It's important for me to get back in for this stretch and playing the hockey I know," Bickell said. "It was frustrating sitting out. I'm anxious to give the team a spark."
Just like Toews would have been had Thursday night's game been a playoff tilt.
"Could he play (if it was a playoff game)?" Quenneville asked with a smile. "Knowing Johnny Toews, there's no chance he'd be out of that game."