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updated: 4/25/2014 9:14 AM

Renewed and refreshed, Toews shifts into higher gear

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  • Jonathan Toews celebrates after Bryan Bickell's game-tying goal against the Blues late in the third period Wednesday at the United Center.

      Jonathan Toews celebrates after Bryan Bickell's game-tying goal against the Blues late in the third period Wednesday at the United Center.
    Associated Press

 
 

It's hard to believe that Jonathan Toews, one of the hockiest guys there is, could actually get worn down by the game he loves so dearly.

But that was absolutely the case ... and not too long ago, as a matter of fact.

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"Leading up to the hit I took in Pittsburgh there, it was a tough couple weeks," the Blackhawks captain said, recalling the Brooks Orpik shot that knocked him out of the final six regular-season games. "I think it was getting to that point where there was just so much hockey -- we were playing every other day for a couple weeks straight.

"I was playing a lot of minutes, and I think just having those few weeks off has definitely helped me get my body ready for this series."

Not that he's getting much time to rest in this crazy series against St. Louis, a series in which three of the first four games have gone to overtime, and one way beyond.

"It's been much the same (in the playoffs)," Toews said. "It's every other day, and it's long games going to overtime pretty much every night against a tough, physical team like St. Louis.

"It's something that I definitely needed to be ready for, and I feel like I have been."

Has he ever.

A refreshed Toews leads the Hawks with 5 points in four playoff games, including a pair of assists in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime victory that evened the series at 2-2, and has the team feeling awfully good about itself heading into tonight's Game 5 at the Scottrade Center.

"I think the odds are in our favor right now," Andrew Shaw said. "The last two games have been huge for us. We had a good push, the push we needed."

And it hasn't been just Toews. Another Hawk on the shelf for the last part of the regular season, Patrick Kane, also looks to be finding his form.

Kane had a gigantic Game 4 with a goal and an assist in regulation and the game-winner in OT.

"I was out a month, so you're not going to come back and have that game pace and timing you had when you left before," he said. "It takes a little while. It's something you have to get used to and get better at. But I'm doing my best."

With Kane and Toews hitting another gear and the Hawks winners of two straight, Quenneville is hoping his team is ready to capitalize on their newly found big Mo in big MO Friday.

"In the playoffs it's definitely real," Quenneville said. "Momentum is something that when you get it, you want to keep it as long as you can."

The Blues, who have had injury issues of their own this series, are desperate to recapture the momentum they had when they departed for Chicago.

They're also desperate to quash the daily reminders of how they started 2-0 last year against L.A. only to lose the next four games.

"It's a big time for us," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock admitted. "We're trying to slay the dragon, I guess you could say. We're trying to prove that we belong in the top echelon.

"We've been in this situation two years in a row and we want to push through and come out the other side. So we're pouring everything we can into it.

"Everything everybody can do to make themselves a part of this thing and help out, they're willing to do. If it means playing banged up, you play banged up. If it means you've got to get going and give 60 percent, give us what you've got. That's just the way it is in a series like this."

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