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Hawks, Toews taking 'wait-and-see' approach

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews went through a second straight day of on-ice work at the United Center on Wednesday morning, but the waiting game for the Chicago Blackhawks captain's return from suspected concussion symptoms is still status quo.

It's still a "wait-and-see" process the Hawks are going through with Toews, who will miss his 15th straight game on Wednesday night when Chicago hosts the rival Vancouver Canucks. The good news is that Toews is back on skates after needing a few days off following four-straight days doing on-ice work.

"Kind of the same," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said, when asked to assess Toews' current health status. "Your body tells you what it's able to do. That's all part of the process. Hopefully you get consecutive days and you just keep on pressing – get a little more every day – that's kind of where we're at."

Toews has not been cleared for contact, which is logically the next -- and maybe final -- step that he'll need to take before being cleared to return for game action. Following the game against the Canucks, the Hawks will have just seven games left in the regular season.

Toews' situation is comparable to one that kept center Dave Bolland off the ice a year ago at this time of year. Bolland didn't return until the fourth game of a first-round playoff series against Vancouver that wound up going seven games with the Hawks losing the deciding game in overtime.

"You look at Bolly last year, he got back and was playing Game 4 against Vancouver," Quenneville said. "He was up to speed pretty quick. There's a process when you know you're ready, you're ready. I don't know how long it takes before you’re ready for contact, ready for pace, ready for making a contribution – it's tough to say when and tough to say how long it's going to take."

Quenneville was also asked whether he thought Toews might have pushed himself too hard the first time he returned to the ice with the injury, which spanned four days in a row of hard skating. Toews spoke to reporters after the workouts and even said he was hoping to play in a March 13 home game against the St. Louis Blues.

He needed to halt his on-ice and then off-ice workouts for about 10 days not long after stating that as a potential return date.

"I just think that every day you're trying different things," Quenneville said. "You push your body in different ways, testing it and see what you’re able to handle – on or off the ice."

Chicago defenseman Steve Montador, who will miss his 21st game in a row with what's believed to be a similar injury to Toews, also skated on Wednesday morning and continues to show signs of progress according to Quenneville.

The Hawks got other positive news on the injury front, as well, as defenseman Nick Leddy will play against the Canucks despite not finishing Tuesday night's 5-1 win at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Leddy was illegally checked from behind early in the third period by Darryl Boyce, who was assessed a boarding minor, and only played one more shift before sitting out the rest of the game.

Quenneville also said that Corey Crawford will start against the Canucks, which will be his fourth straight start and fifth straight appearance. He's won four games in a row and has allowed just four goals in the four previous appearances.

"Corey at this time last year had the ball and he was running with it and we played him [27] games in a row?" Quenneville said. "And he handled back-to back games ... we don't usually do that during the course of a season. This is a big game. The fact that we're coming back to him is a good sign for him to get some confidence going that we're relying on him at an important time of the year."

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