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Hawks set to face Blues again without Toews

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- After getting back on the ice for four straight days while recovering from what's believed to be a concussion, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has taken the last two days off.

The Hawks didn't practice on Monday and Toews didn't skate on his own. He then missed the morning skate Tuesday prior to the Hawks facing the St. Louis Blues at United Center on Tuesday night -- meaning he will not play against the Blues. It will be his 11th straight game out of the lineup.

"He didn't skate today, he's here getting treatments," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the skate. "It's part of the process. Some days are better than others, but he knows his body and we'll see how he is."

Toews was unavailable to speak with reporters while getting those treatments, but Quenneville sounded optimistic when asked if he was hopeful that his team's captain and top center could return within the next week or two.

"He's excited about when he was skating here, so he's still looking forward to getting back out there," Quenneville said. "Hopefully it's going to be soon."

Chicago is 5-4-1 in the previous 10 games since Toews left the lineup following a 3-1 win against the Blues on Feb. 19 at the United Center. Toews has missed a total of 11 games this season and the Hawks are 5-5-1 in those contests -- a mark that isn't nearly as bad as many might've thought when Toews first left the lineup.

"You'd probably like to be a little bit better than that, but he's a big part of the lineup ... everyone knows that," said star forward Patrick Kane, who has five goals and seven points in the past seven games filling in at top-line center. "He does so much. He scores goals. He's great on the penalty kill and faceoffs. He just helps in so many ways. When you miss a guy like that, it's a big void but I thought we've done pretty good overall."

The Blues present yet another tall order Tuesday night. Despite the teams splitting the first four games of the season series, St, Louis dominated Chicago 5-1 in the last meeting on March 6 at Scottrade Center. Toews was not in uniform for that game and the Blues seemed to thrive without the two-way center on the ice.

Since that game, however, the Hawks have managed to beat one of the League's best teams in the New York Rangers and then earn a point in a shootout loss to the playoff-hunting Los Angeles Kings -- both in Chicago.

Considering the Hawks have gone 4-1-1 since going 1-3-0 to start this extended stretch without their emotional leader, it could be a lot worse for them.

"The last [six] games we kind of realized that we wanted to put it together and start winning some games without him in the lineup," Kane said. "We've done a better job with that, as of late. Hopefully it's kind of a blessing in disguise, where you miss him for a little bit, you start playing the right way as a team and you know you're only going to get better when he comes back. It's kind of nice to think about it that way ... that you're winning games without a big piece of your lineup and you know he's coming back soon. It's exciting."
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