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Blackhawks report 'no progress' yet on Toews

by Brian Hedger /
CHICAGO -- It looks like captain Jonathan Toews will sit out again when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the United Center (8 p.m., TSN).

Toews, the Hawks' captain, has missed four straight games with what the team is calling an upper-body injury that's believed to be concussion-related. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville sounded hopeful this past weekend that Toews might be ready to face the Leafs, but the young superstar and Chicago's sparkplug didn't practice on Tuesday and there is no change in his prognosis of "day-to-day" with the injury.

"Toews is the same, didn't skate today," Quenneville said when asked after Tuesday's practice. "[He's] about the same he's been the last few days. No progress."

The Hawks are also missing defensemen Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who are also out with suspected concussions. Hjalmarsson skated on his own Tuesday, but was also ruled out for Wednesday's game -- which will be his second straight game missed since returning from a seven-game absence last week against the Dallas Stars.

Missing Toews, however, is a crushing blow to the Hawks -- who feed off his drive, emotion and sheer will to win. They also lack a true center to play on the top line, which is why star forward Patrick Kane will likely man that position on Wednesday night between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa.

"Obviously we'd like to see him on the ice and get a pretty good idea when he'll be back," Quenneville said of Toews. "He enhances our team in all areas, so it's tough when we don't see him on the ice. He's watching games and he's disappointed he can't be out there helping."

Knowing Toews, however, the term "disappointed" is probably understating his frustration by quite a bit.

"Injured guys definitely deal with that," Quenneville said. "We know the leader he is and how meaningful he'd be in our lineup. That's part of the frustration, as well."

Chicago also called up rookie forwards Andrew Shaw and Brand Bollig in the past two days now that the trading deadline has passed and teams no longer have to limit their rosters to 23 players.

Shaw is a gritty two-way forward who's not afraid to play around the net despite a lack of size, while Bollig is a big enforcer type who was put on a fourth line for Tuesday's practice with big bodies Jimmy Hayes and Jamal Mayers.

The Blackhawks now have five rookies on their roster, and all could suit up to play the Leafs on Wednesday in a big game for two teams trying to stop out of slumps. Quenneville wants his veterans to lead the way and try to take some pressure of all the young guys as the final portion of the regular season comes at them.

"The stretch drive is going to be very competitive, [and] going to be extremely tight," Quenneville said. "[We] lost the nice position we were in a month ago. It's evaporated and we have to come together here quickly and push and help each other."
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