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Jonathan Toews salutes Blackhawks’ leaders

Updated: May 1, 2012 8:34AM

There are areas where Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews absence sticks out more than others. There are his skills in the faceoff circle, his effectiveness in shootouts and his presence on the power play, to list a few.

But leadership — one of Toews’ most valued characteristics — might not be one of them. Just ask him.

“We have a good leadership group, and we don’t always just rely on one guy,” said Toews, who will miss his 19th consecutive game Saturday in Nashville as he recovers from a concussion.

“In these games that I’ve missed, the guys have realized they want to keep winning and they want to hang in there and play playoff hockey and be competitive once you get there. So they’ve kind of committed themselves to doing those little things and playing the right way. It’s been fun to see that.”

It also makes it easier on Toews, who has called his long recovery frustrating several times. The Hawks have gone 11-5-2 since Toews’ absence began Feb. 21.

Now they’re part of playoff-clinching scenarios. An Edmonton Oilers victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday would have clinched the Hawks’ fourth consecutive playoff berth. But they’ll have to wait another day after the Kings won 4-1 to move into the Pacific Division lead and the third spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.

Toews sheepishly said he’s not shooting for a Dave Bolland-like comeback. Bolland made a triumphant return from a concussion last postseason against the Vancouver Canucks to spark the Hawks’ rally in that series.

“He definitely made it look easy, and I’m going through somewhat of the same thing that he did,” Toews said. “I can see that it’s not going to be easy at all. Like him, I definitely just want to go back on the ice and fit in whenever I can.”

NOTE: The Hawks didn’t practice Friday before departing for Nashville. They’re expected to have the same lineup as Thursday against the Blues.

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