Toews almost ready to take contact

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is on the verge of taking contact in practice as he recovers from a reported concussion. It’s the final step before returning to the lineup.

“I’m not sure if it’s official yet,” Toews said about taking contact. “Every day I’m getting more and more confident with where I’m at. [Thursday] would be another one of those days. I’m getting very, very close.”

Toews practiced with his teammates Thursday morning but won’t play against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. It will be his 18th consecutive game he has missed.

“There are some hurdles you have to pass, medically,” Joel Quenneville said of Toews playing soon.

Both Toews and Quenneville indicated next week would be the earliest Toews would play, assuming he passes all his medical tests.

"Definitely need a few more days,” Toews said. “See how it goes through this weekend."

The Hawks play in Nashville on Saturday and then host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Then comes a break until Thursday when they take on the Wild on the road. Quenneville said “let’s hope so” when asked if Toews might play in that game.

The Hawks are 10-5-2 without Toews in the lineup.

“I’m feeling great,” Toews said. “Just have to get those legs going and get myself back to getting in game shape as close as I can.”

The Hawks will be without the services of defenseman Steve Montador “indefinitely” after he left Tuesday’s game in New Jersey, apparently re-aggravating a reported concussion. Montador’s head collided with the Devils' Mark Fayne early in the third period.

Defenseman Sami Lepisto practiced with the team for the first time since injuring his left leg in a game against the Blues on March 6. He’s hopeful to return before the end of the regular season.

Corey Crawford starts in net for Chicago on Thursday. He’ll be opposed by Jaroslav Halak.