WASHINGTON -- The postseason is rapidly approaching. Good thing injured captain Jonathan Toews is back on the ice.
“He skated yesterday, skated very well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday of Toews, Chicago's third-leading scorer with 68 points. "Looked good. As did [Patrick Kane]."
Neither player made the trip to Washington for Friday night's matchup with the Capitals, the penultimate game of the regular season. With the Blackhawks locked into the third seed in the Central division, there is no need to rush.
However, don't assume Quenneville's overall plan involves resting regulars. Goaltender Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal versus Washington. The coach also said right wing Marian Hossa would play on Friday.
Despite playing without Toews, the Blackhawks have won four straight.
"Most of the guys are going to play tonight," Quenneville said following morning skate at the Verizon Center. "We want to make sure we sustained what we accomplished over the past four games, do the right things. We'll see tomorrow night, we'll look at those options too."
Chicago closes the regular season Saturday at the Nashville Predators. Neither the Capitals nor Predators remain in the postseason chase.
"We'd still like to get points. There's a lot of teams around us in the standings," the coach said. "But it's not very often there's games that the two points isn't as valuable as they were for the other 80 games. How the games play out, the guys probably could have fun with the game.
"At the same time, don't discount that you've got to play hard and expect the other team to be ready. It's hard to forecast what's going to happen out there, but don't let your guard down."
These final games also serve the coaching staff with a final chance to determine playing lines for the postseason.
"I think everything's under consideration," Quenneville said. "I think that we've got a pretty good idea how we're looking to begin in a perfect world, but we'll see how that plays out itself. Tough to forecast in our business much more than today's game, but we'll definitely be watching and evaluating as well."
The Blackhawks are also watching and evaluating the progress of Toews and Kane.
"Certainly we expect these guys to be coming in at a high rate right off the bat, and I'm sure their linemates will love the opportunity to be playing with those guys in either situation, whether they're together or not," Quenneville said. "I think that it gives you a lot more options as a coach knowing these guys are returning to your lineup and (on) special teams as well."