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Injured Hawks take another step

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- The next hurdle is getting cleared for contact, but for now, injured Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will take the steady progress he seems to be making.

Toews, who will a 16th straight game on Sunday night with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion symptoms, did on-ice work for a sixth straight day on Sunday at the United Center. The Hawks didn't hold a morning skate, but Toews and several other injured Hawks were put through the paces skating in order to see how their bodies reacted.

"He did good," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said on Sunday afternoon. "He progressed. I thought all of those guys today that skated had a good skate. Everybody was feeling all right."

Hawks defenseman Steve Montador (suspected concussion symptoms), rookie center Marcus Kruger (suspected concussion symptoms) and defenseman Sami Lepisto (lower body) joined Toews in the workout.

Montador has been cleared for contact and the plan is to get him acclimated to it in practice
this coming week before potentially returning to the lineup. After top defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended five games for an illegal elbow he hit Vancouver's Daniel Sedin in the face with, the Hawks' blue-line depth will be challenged.

"He's cleared for contact, so we'll get him out here and get some contact in this week," Quenneville said of Montador, who's missed 21 straight games. "We've got a busy week as well, so we'll see how he progresses this week and we'll get him in here at some point."

Kruger is day-to-day with a suspected recurrence of an earlier upper-body injury believed to be a concussion, while Quenneville is hopeful that Lepisto might also return before the regular season ends. After Lepisto was hurt on March 6 in St. Louis, he was initially classified "out indefinitely" and has missed seven straight games.

"He tried it in the ice today," Quenneville said. "Not bad. He had a spin a little while ago, but first real spin."
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