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Jonathan Toews won’t let standings affect decision to return

When he’s back lineup Jonathan Toews could center line with Patrick Kane Marian Hossa. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

When he’s back in the lineup, Jonathan Toews could center a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 5, 2012 8:17AM

There are a number of elements that will factor into Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews’ return from a concussion, but home-ice advantage isn’t one of them.

“Things like that don’t really play into this decision,” Toews said Tuesday after practice. “I’m more looking at the big picture and making sure that when it’s time to go back that this injury is not going to come back in any way, shape or form.”

Starting the postseason at the United Center seemed to be swept away by the nine-game losing streak that saw the Hawks plummet from first in the NHL to sixth in the Western Conference.

But a late-season resurgence, including a 12-5-3 record in the 20 games Toews has missed, has seen the Hawks pull within striking distance of the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Toews said his return for the game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul remains a possibility, but he’ll be very careful when deciding.

“It’s tough to really know 110 percent if the time is right to go back in and play,” Toews said. “You’ve got to have that gut instinct that feels right that it’s time to play. [Tuesday] was a good day, and hopefully [Wednesday] is the same way and [after that] we’ll see.”

After seeing teammate Steve Montador return from a concussion that kept him out for 22 games only to have his symptoms apparently return after he took an unintentional elbow, Toews is committed to being cautious.

“There’s a lot of things that you’ve got to be sure of before you come back from an injury like this,” Toews said when asked about the recurrence of Montador’s injury, which has the defenseman out indefinitely. “It definitely makes you think twice to try and stay level-headed about it.”

When Toews returns, coach Joel Quenneville said he could center a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, with one of the natural right wingers switching to the left side.

That would allow Quenneville to keep the Hawks’ highly successful second line of Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Viktor Stalberg intact.

“I don’t really want to change too much the personnel on the lines,” Quenneville said. “Let’s hope that Jonny coming in gives us a different look as far as an option of where he’s going to fit. But that has been talked about.”

Who’d have guessed that at the beginning of the season after all the talk about Kane moving to center?

“We’re finally realizing what we’re capable of as a team,” Toews said. “[From] the outside looking in, you could see we’re gaining that confidence. I think all year we knew we were a playoff team and we know we do have the potential to do something special again.”

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