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Toews skates for fourth straight day

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- A few hours before finding out that their top defenseman, Duncan Keith, had been suspended for five games by the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks got some good news on the ice at the United Center.

Injured captain and top center Jonathan Toews, who's missed the Hawks' last 15 games with an upper-body injury believed to be a concussion, skated on his own Friday afternoon for the fourth straight day. Toews had skated four consecutive days once before during his recovery, but then needed to back off for about 10 days, presumably because symptoms of his condition returned.

"When you get him on the ice more for consecutive days you have more hope, but we'll see," coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.

When asked if he'd like Toews to get a couple of regular-season games under his belt before heading into the playoffs, Quenneville compared the situation to one last season with third-line center Dave Bolland -- who missed the end of the regular season and the first three games of a first-round playoff series with a similar injury.

"We'll see," Quenneville said. "Maybe we were in that same process last year with Bolly and we're just hoping for that same situation, so we'll see."

Defenseman Steve Montador, who's also out with an upper-body injury believed to be concussion-related, skated with the team in practice again but said he wouldn't rush his return just because Chicago's depth will likely be tested again by Keith's absence -- he was suspended for an elbow to the head of Vancouver's Daniel Sedin in the first period of Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win.

Rookie center Marcus Kruger also skated for a bit on his own Friday after the rest of the team practiced. Kruger left the game against Vancouver in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return. He missed eight games at the end of December and the start of January with an upper-body injury also believed to have been from a concussion.

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