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Jimmy Hayes has no laments about his frequent scratches

Goalie Corey Crawford finds himself center scrum front Hawks’ net. | John Russell~Getty Images

Goalie Corey Crawford finds himself in the center of a scrum in front of the Hawks’ net. | John Russell~Getty Images

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Wild at Blackhawks

The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 720-AM.

Updated: May 2, 2012 8:30AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It had been two weeks since Blackhawks rookie Jimmy Hayes last played, but the 6-6, 221-pound winger saw it all as “a learning experience.”

While other rookies have found roles for the Hawks down the stretch and likely for the postseason, Hayes often has been a healthy scratch. He ­finally rejoined the lineup Saturday against the Nashville Predators after sitting out six in a row.

“It’s a learning experience,” Hayes said of being a scratch. “[It was] something I’ve been going through. I just have to continue to have a great attitude in the locker room and continue to work hard on the ice.”

Similar to Andrew Shaw, it didn’t take long for Hayes to inject some youthful enthusiasm into the Hawks’ lineup and produce. But as coach Joel Quenneville often has said, it’s about finding consistency, and Hayes’ opportunities waned as his play dipped. Hayes, who replaced Michael Frolik on the fourth line, played 2:55 on Saturday.

“That consistency of bringing some intensity, whether you’re playing two minutes or 12 minutes, that’s a part he can add to his game,” Quenneville said. “But we still think he can get better, better and better. I don’t think we should be thinking that he’s stale or he’s plateaued.”

Hayes also doesn’t think opponents started playing him any differently after he scored four goals and had three assists in his first 13 games before being assigned to Rockford.

“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Hayes said. “I just have to continue to work hard and keep showing it.”

Feeling fine

Center Marcus Kruger said he took the safer-than-sorry approach when he sat out the Hawks’ last game against the Predators on March 25 after experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

“I feel pretty good,” said Kruger, who continues to play well on the second line. “I missed one game. Of course, you never want to do that. But I got back right away after, so it felt good to have that.”

The extra precaution was needed after Kruger missed eight games earlier this season with a concussion.

“I had no worries, really,” ­Kruger said. “I practiced a few days [before rejoining the lineup] and I felt good.”

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