Toews aims to get back in lineup next week

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews participated in a scrimmage on Saturday at Johnny’s IceHouse in Chicago, unfortunately it was with a youth team which won a chance to practice with a Blackhawks player back in the preseason.

The good news was Toews was able to fulfill the obligation as he recovers from a concussion which has kept him out of the last nine games. He’s getting closer to returning to the lineup.

“You’re supposed to feel better every day,” Toews said after Hawks practice and the scrimmage with the kids. “People talk about setbacks and the last three days I don’t feel like I’ve had any. That’s a good thing. It’s the lungs that hurt a little bit.”

Toews is getting back into game-shape and waiting to be cleared for contact. That’s the next step. He’s optimistic his return will be sooner rather than later.

“That’s the real way of knowing, I think. You turn around in the corner and have a guy on you. You’re spinning around and someone hits you,” Toews said. “Those things that move you really fast.”

Toews isn’t sure when that first game back will be but he didn’t dismiss the notion it could come this Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. That’s the team he last played a game against on Feb. 19.

“I always think the next game is the time,” he said. “I would love to be [playing] on Tuesday, but I have to focus on this afternoon and getting a good rest tonight. …This past week I was hoping for Sunday, but I realize that’s not going to happen. We’ll shoot for that [Tuesday], but again we’ll take it day by day.”

Best estimation is the earliest Toews would actually play is Friday in Dallas, so for now it’s about getting back into shape.

“I think it’s the toughest injury for that reason,” Toews explained. “You can’t be active. You have to sit around and do nothing. They say you can lose it pretty quick, but a couple more skates like this it comes back.”

Toews said on Friday that he needs to be honest with himself and the people around him about how he feels. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is counting on it.

“He’ll tell us,” Quenneville said. “You get the feel of your body throughout the day. They tell you when they’re ready. Hopefully it’s soon.”

The timing might work out perfectly. Toews should be ready with about nine or 10 games left in the regular season. That way he has time to round into playoff form and hopefully the Hawks do as well.

“I think I’ve been doing a good job of going home and locking it down and taking care of myself after these workouts,” he said. “Day by day, that’s how I’m going.”