As the Blackhawks returned to the ice at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago, Connor Murphy took a big step forward in recovery from a groin injury that sidelined him on injured reserve to start the 2019-20 season.
The defenseman, who originally tweaked the injury before Chicago departed for Europe, did not practice for much of the team's overseas trip, but did return to the ice for the final practice in Prague on Thursday. On Monday, he was back for the full session and feels confident he'll be ready for Thursday's home opener.
"It's been a few days now and I feel really good, so we'll go from there," the defenseman said, noting that he was hopeful to make his debut. "It felt good the last practice we had and today, all day, was good, so I'm happy with that."
"He looked good today and that's definitely a positive," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It's good that he - even after practice from what I understand - he felt good. We'll see though."
Video: Murphy on desire to return
The outlook for Thursday is a little less optimistic in the cases of Calvin de Haan and Kirby Dach.
After returning skating for the last two weeks with the team, de Haan was ruled out from Monday's practice for groin treatment, which Colliton said is in hopes to get him over the finish line in his recovery.
"He is close, we just can't really get over that last hump," he said. "So rest, a couple days off here, (it's) all part of the plan to give him that last push."
Dach, who returned to the ice just over a week ago in Berlin, is also on a slower trajectory to get back into the mix, according to Colliton.
"I think we'd like to get him up to speed a little more, get him back home here," the head coach said of the No. 3 pick. "Today was a good, full practice for him. It's tough, over there we did practice (but) it wasn't the high-intensity - at least (on) all the days -that we would like to get him back up (to speed). We want to give him the best opportunity to step right in and help us."
Video: Health updates from Colliton