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Blackhawks optimistic Jonathan Toews will play in opener

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Updated: January 19, 2013 3:23PM

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Blackhawks’ depth at center — a concern in recent seasons — might be tested right out of the gate Saturday.

Jonathan Toews came down with the flu sometime after the team landed in Los Angeles on Thursday night, coach Joel Quenneville said, and didn’t participate in practice Friday afternoon.

Toews’ status for the season opener against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings is in doubt. But Quenneville was optimistic.

“There’s good-enough progress today that we anticipate him playing,” he said.

Brandon Saad skated in Toews’ place between Marian Hossa and Daniel Carcillo on the top line, but that likely was to preserve the other lines for practice purposes as much as anything. Quenneville wouldn’t say if Saad would take Toews’ spot if he had to sit out the opener.

“That’s something we haven’t even talked about yet,” Quenneville said. “We’re hoping we don’t have to go to Plan B.”

Quenneville said Toews was fine on the flight Thursday night, but the obvious concern is if Toews had the flu bug on the plane, it could spread among the team.

Marcus Kruger missed two days of the five-day training camp with the flu, and the Hawks took extra precaution to quarantine him from the rest of the team.

“Opening day [of camp] we mentioned what’s going on this year around the country, so let’s take care of that,” Quenneville said.

“I’ve been around it where it’s devastated a team. It’s something you’ve got to be careful about this year because there’s so many games in not so many days. [It] could really be disruptive.”

Crow flies

As expected, Corey Crawford will start in goal against the Kings. Backup Ray Emery could get the call Sunday at Phoenix in the first of a dozen back-to-back sets for the Hawks in the abbreviated season.

“Not playing for that stretch of [time during the lockout], it’ll be interesting to watch goalies, particularly those who haven’t played over this time period, [and see] how they’re game-ready,” Quenneville said. “With the importance of goaltending, and right out of the gate the meaning of these games, it’s going to be interesting to see how the goalies handle the workload.”

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