Injured Seabrook, Toews will be evaluated at morning skate
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Optional morning skates are optional for a reason.
Typically, they’re of low importance and held just to get some guys on the ice. The optional skate the Blackhawks will have Sunday at the United Center is the rare exception.
It might determine whether defenseman Brent Seabrook returns from an upper-body injury Sunday night against the Stars, and it will factor into center Jonathan Toews’ travel plans next week.
Toews will miss his ninth game with a back injury, but he might skate in the morning for the first time since last Sunday.
If he skates and his body responds well, Toews might make the three-game road trip to New York and St. Louis.
But would Toews be playing through this if it were a playoff series?
“Knowing Jonny, I think he’d probably find a way,” coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday. “But we’ve got to do what’s right long term, and we’ve got to do what’s right now, and we’ve got to make sure he’s 100 percent and ready to go.”
The Hawks are 4-2-2 without Toews and still sit atop the Western Conference with 38 points. The Hawks see no need to rush his recovery, even if it has dragged on much longer than anticipated.
“When guys are ready to play, they’re ready to play,” Quenneville said. “I don’t think we want to feel that [our spot in the standings] makes the decision for us. Everybody wants to be on the ice, and everybody wants to play. When you’re ready to go, that’s basically when it’s time.”
Seabrook, who was injured in the second period Tuesday against the Coyotes, might be ready. He practiced Saturday after missing the Hawks’ 1-0 overtime loss to the Rangers on Friday.
“I felt really good in practice,” said Seabrook, who had missed only 10 games in the previous 10 seasons. “The lungs at the end were burning a little bit [working] with [assistant coach Mike Kitchen], but just trying to get ready to roll.”
Corey Crawford also is progressing in his recovery from an appendectomy Dec. 3 that was expected to shelve him two to three weeks. He’s getting closer to doing on-ice drills.
“He’s doing all right,” Quenneville said. “I still think that being away and then getting him back on the ice, it’ll be some time to get him back to square one. But he’s excited about getting back in the equipment here soon.”
NOTES: Wingers Marian Hossa and Richard Panik didn’t practice, but Joel Quenneville said both are fine. Goalie Scott Darling will start his fifth consecutive game.
Assistant coach Kevin Dineen might miss the game after his father, Bill, died Saturday at 84 in Lake George, New York. He played in the NHL and AHL, coached in the AHL and is a member of the AHL Hall of Fame. “Bill Dineen was a tremendous man,” Quenneville said. “Everybody that had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy.”
Follow me on Twitter @BrianHedger.