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Blackhawks’ Brunette eager for playoff action

Published: Monday, April 2, 2012 11:29 a.m. CDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (MCT) — Andrew Brunette has experienced the alternative to reaching the postseason and didn’t much like it.

Skating for the Wild, he was finished playing the last three seasons when the 82-game regular season ended.

“It has been tough the last couple of years — really frustrating,” Brunette said before the Hawks defeated the Predators 5-4 Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena to secure a spot in the playoffs. “It’s no fun sitting around and watching the playoffs on TV this time of year. It’s actually depressing, especially as you get a little older in your career. For me, it’s really exciting to have this opportunity again.”

The 38-year-old has helped spearhead the Hawks’ postseason drive by playing a solid left wing on the top line alongside Marian Hossa and center Patrick Kane.

“They’re two of the better players in the league,” Brunette said. “We’ve had some pretty good chemistry. We haven’t gotten the production for the amount of chances we’ve created but night in and night out we’ve found a way to squeak one in.”

Toews update: Captain Jonathan Toews skated Saturday in Chicago and appears to be on track to return later this week from a concussion.

The center missed his 19th consecutive game when the Hawks faced the Predators but coach Joel Quenneville said afterward Toews has been cleared for contact.

“It’s good — positive,” Quenneville said. “We’re hopeful that maybe we can get him in before the end of the regular season.”

He said it: Kane on whether he will sport a mullet again during the playoffs: “I don’t know about it this year. It didn’t work last year and kind of ruined my whole hairdo for the summer. I might just keep the flow going and stick with what’s working.”

In ‘n’ out: Rookie Jimmy Hayes returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch six games in a row. Hayes replaced veteran Michael Frolik. Center Brendan Morrison was also a healthy scratch.

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