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Blackhawks' Seth Jones feels ready to return after ‘rare' SC joint injury

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones practiced with the team in full on Friday for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Dec. 10 that has sidelined him for a month. And he feels ready to return on Saturday, assuming the morning skate goes well.

"It’s been a weird injury," Jones said. "Something I didn’t expect and kind of a rare one. I’ve been taking some contact this week. I’ve been able to skate but I’ve been able to take some contact this week and really get back into it."

Jones was originally told he would be out only two weeks. But further testing showed it was a SC joint injury, which meant no contact for four weeks.

"It wasn’t what I expected," Jones said. "We took a closer look and it was double that time. It sucks sitting out. Whether the team’s winning or losing, it sucks sitting out and watching. I’m happy I can get back into the lineup tomorrow."

Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson didn't say matter-of-factly that Jones would return to the lineup on Saturday, but Friday's practice indicated that he is expecting him to. Jones skated on the top pairing and first power-play unit and didn't have any restrictions.

"He looked good out there," Richardson said. "It’ll be great to have him back if it’s tomorrow or Tuesday. I think players always give you a boost when they come back, because they’re excited. Obviously he’s a good player, so we’re looking forward to it."

Jones' return to the lineup would be a major boost for the Blackhawks, needless to say. He eats more than 25 minutes per game, and is as important of a player as there is on the roster.

Jones returning also means one less player on injured reserve, which would trim the number down to six.

"When I was here, the guys went on that trip over New Years," Jones said. "It was a groin first shift in Dallas first game, and what, four broken bones in four games? The training room was crazy."

Watching games from afar was beneficial for Jones, who's proud of the way his team has played of late even though the results haven't been there. He's hoping to slide in seamlessly and help lift the Blackhawks in areas they could use his help.

"We’ve actually played well the last week or so," Jones said. "The last four games, we’ve hung in there. The main thing is we want to stay competitive in these games. We want to keep it close. We’ve had great goaltending, it’s just staying consistent every single shift and not letting up one shift, kind of like the last game. We let up one shift, it’s a tie game, one more mistake and we lose that game. 

"Staying focused, understanding time management, game management, that’s what I’m noticing. Just playing smart. If everyone’s playing smart, we look like we’re a fast team, we look like we’re working harder, because everyone knows where that puck's going to be."

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