CHICAGO -- They returned home from Vancouver on Friday feeling good, but the Chicago Blackhawks got another boost during practice on Saturday when injured defenseman Brent Seabrook took the ice at the United Center.
It was the first time Seabrook has skated since Game 3 of Chicago's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks, which the Hawks still trail 3-2 despite blowing out the Canucks in the previous two.
Seabrook was injured in the second period of Game 3 after two hits by Raffi Torres -- one while he wasn't looking -- gave him what's believed to be a concussion. He finished that game, but the after-effects held him out of Game 4 in Chicago and Game 5 in Vancouver, despite Seabrook making the trip.
Asked if he was symptom-free on Saturday, Seabrook said he was -- but he will still have to pass a protocol test on Sunday before gaining clearance to play in Game 6 on Sunday night at the United Center.
Does he think he'll pass?
"We'll see," Seabrook said. "I felt excited out there today, getting on the ice with the guys and having a lot of fun out there joking and laughing with the guys."
Seabrook initially told reporters between Game 3 and Game 4 that he would be OK to play in Game 4, but things changed on the morning of Game 4 at the United Center and he was scratched. What happened?
"Just some symptoms and whatnot," Seabrook said. "I just wasn't ready to go."
Torres was penalized for interference on the first hit but not suspended. The Hawks, meanwhile, rallied around Seabrook's injury to claw their way back into the series after dropping the first three games. Seabrook acknowledged on Saturday that it's been eating at him having to watch the last two games.
"It was real frustrating," he said. "I wanted to be out there with the guys. I was talking with them and asking for another chance to get in the lineup and they've done an unbelievable job. They've played two great games and you know, hopefully tomorrow's a better day for me and I can get back in there and help the guys out."
After blowing out the Canucks in two straight, Chicago has a wave of momentum going despite facing elimination. Getting Seabrook back on Sunday could give them even more inspiration to knot it up and force a Game 7 back in Vancouver.
"It's nice to see him back out there," Hawks forward Patrick Kane said, following the practice. "I thought he looked pretty good out there today, too. Anytime you can get a big body like that back … he's meant a lot to us all year and he's a big part of this organization and a big part of our team. Hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville will be happy if Seabrook can go, but it would also present a difficult choice -- sit 6-foot-8, 258-pound enforcer John Scott or keep him active as a forward in what's become a chippy series between teams that don't like each other.
"We hope he can play," Quenneville said of Seabrook. "We'll know more tomorrow, but that's where we're at today. Nice to see him return (to practice). He's one of our leaders and go-to guys in a lot of aspects, but his presence is felt throughout the room and around the guys, as well."
As for Scott?
"We'll see," Quenneville said. "I know that gives us something to think about and some tough decisions we welcome. Definitely his size and his presence, be it up front or on the back end, has been there. But I think he's got an effectiveness to how he plays that keeps him in the game and in the play -- not just a one-dimensional tough guy."
Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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