Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Blackhawks [Print without images]

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Hawks' No. 1 line comes through vs. Wings

By Chuck Pleiness

DETROIT -- Life without forward Marian Hossa has been a bit rocky of late for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sunday afternoon in Detroit, it got a little more tolerable.

Chicago’s newly formed top line of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Michael Frolik combined for seven points -- three goals and four assists -- and finished a plus-9 in the Blackhawks’ 7-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

“That line was good,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad scored twice for the Blackhawks in Sunday's win.
Prior to Sunday’s win, Chicago was 1-3-0 over its last four games without Hossa in the lineup.

Saad led the way with a pair of goals and an assist in his first two-goal game of the season. It also snapped a string of 10 straight games without a goal for the rookie.

“I haven’t changed much in my game and it’s just like the beginning of the season,” said Saad, who didn’t score his first goal of the season until his ninth game played. “I’m still working hard. It’s just they weren’t going in early and they’re going in now. It’s was only a matter of time, but it’s definitely nice to have them going, though.”

Despite the scoring slump Saad had collected eight assists over the last 10 games, which is a reason why Quenneville kept him with Toews and Hossa on the top line.

“I know that we like the way he plays,” Quenneville said. “I know that the first part of the season, I don’t know how many games, the production started to be reflected in his play. I thought his play was rock solid and I think offensively, defensively, the predictability of his game and his strength in the puck area. I think he’s in the right place on the right line and he looks like he belongs there.”

Toews had a goal and two assists. Frolik added an assist. All three players were a plus-3.

Frolik has replaced the injured Hossa on the line.

“I think he’s taking advantage of quality ice (time) there in Hossa’s absence playing there on that line,” Quenneville said. “Defensively he’s really carved out a nice niche on the (penalty kill), but nice to see him look like he can play with top guys and take advantage of that situation as well.”