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updated: 11/11/2013 10:55 PM

Blackhawks' top line clicking right along

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  • The Blackhawks' Brandon Saad celebrates after scoring a goal in Sunday's 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center.

      The Blackhawks' Brandon Saad celebrates after scoring a goal in Sunday's 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Blackhawks have scored 5 or more goals in five of their last seven games, and it has resulted in a seven-game points streak.

The top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa has led the way, and on Monday Sharp was named the NHL's third star of the week for collecting 7 points in three games.

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"You can talk about all three guys on that line," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They've all been complementing one another, playing really well. They all have the puck a lot lately, and they seem to be feeding off each other."

Solidifying the top two lines definitely has played a big part in the Hawks' recent surge offensively.

"I think guys like that familiarity of playing with one another and all of a sudden they develop some predictability without the puck, with the puck and before you touch the puck," Quenneville said. "There seems to be an awareness of where you need to go before you touch it, and that seems to be coming along.

"I just think our lineup has some flexibility of interchangeable parts. Guys just aren't centers or wings; you can put three guys together on a need basis or just on a hunch so a lot of guys can move up."

Brandon Saad is one of those players Quenneville can play anywhere and with anyone.

"I've been pretty happy with my play," Saad said after scoring a goal in Sunday's 5-4 win over Edmonton. "It always feels good to get some goals and some points. It was only a matter of time before I got a couple more."

Despite the Hawks' 12-2-4 record they can't pull away from the rest of the Central Division.

"We're just happy to be getting wins and getting points," defenseman Duncan Keith said.

Surprising Colorado is tied with the Hawks for first place with 28 points, while St. Louis and Minnesota are tied with 24 points.

"You look at our (conference) and I think there are seven teams with 22 to 24 points," Quenneville said. "You have Anaheim at the top, and I'm sure it's going to fluctuate daily. Colorado is probably the team that has surprised the most with their tremendous start.

"We thought the West was pretty good, but I don't think anybody anticipated the strength it has shown so far."

Tough break:

Tampa Bay suffered what could be a devastating blow Monday when all-star winger Steven Stamkos broke his right leg in a game at Boston.

Stamkos will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a broken right tibia, said Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

"At this point Steven will be out indefinitely," Yzerman said in a statement. "The medical staff in Boston, in consultation with our team physicians, has made the decision to surgically repair the injury.

"The procedure is expected to take place (Tuesday) morning. The biggest concern for me, and the rest of the Lightning, is that decisions are made in Steven's best long-term interest, and we feel this is the appropriate course of action."

Stamkos' injury could have Team Canada scrambling. The veteran Stamkos is a lock to make the Canadian Olympic team, and his loss would create a big hole in that lineup.

Bolland on the mend:

Former Hawks center Dave Bolland expects to return this season for Toronto after having surgery last week to repair a tendon near his right ankle that was severed by the skate of Vancouver's Zack Kassian.

"Things were going well and then something like this happens (and) it really crushes you," Bolland told reporters in Toronto on Monday.

"I just went in the corner and by the time I turned around I just fell and didn't really feel anything in my ankle," Bolland said. "Tried to get up and my ankle just buckled."

Bolland was wearing Kevlar socks, but the material was unable to protect his ankle from injury.

"It's just a freak thing," he said. "It's hockey. You're going in the corners and you're wearing sharp blades; it was just a little opening in my foot that got cut."

•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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