The Chicago Blackhawks will have captain Jonathan Toews
in the lineup Monday when the team finishes its two-game swing in California with a game against the Los Angeles Kings (9 p.m. ET, VERSUS).
Toews hasn't played since suffering an upper-body injury Dec. 28 against the St. Louis Blues. It was suspected at the time that he could miss up to two weeks, but when he takes the ice Monday, he'll have cut that timeline in half.
"I'm really happy about it," Toews said. "It's always frustrating when something happens. Probably the most painful thing is knowing you're going to be out more than when it actually happens. Every single day, from the first day until today, we saw progress. I feel good. There's that side of things that you want to push it and get back as fast as you can but I can honestly say I don't feel there's any risk in coming back tonight."
Toews skated Saturday and again prior to Sunday's game in Anaheim, and didn't feel any rust from the time off.
"It feels good," he said. "Hit the ice a couple times, and I don't think I lost too much. I should be able to pick up where I left off."
Coach Joel Quenneville was happy to have Toews back in the lineup for all the different things he's capable of doing.
"He obviously means a lot of to us in a lot of ways," said Quenneville. "He's so useful as a coach to put him in a lot of different situations. We're very excited about the chance of getting him."
Toews is second on the team with 15 goals and 38 points. His production has been doubly important in the wake of injuries to big-time performers up front like Patrick Kane
and Marian Hossa
It's hoped his return sparks a Blackhawks team that has lost three straight, starting with the game against the Blues that saw Toews get hurt.
"I think guys are aware of the standings and what's going on there," said Toews. "We want to start trying to get out of that rat race. We all know how close the West is and how tough it is for a lot of teams that are in the fourth through eighth spots and even beyond that. It seems like no one's out of that race for those last couple playoff spots. We'll try to distance ourselves, but we'll take it one game at a time and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves either."