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Monday, November 25, 2013
Hawks shuffle lines with Handzus' return

By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta -- With Michal Handzus back with the Chicago Blackhawks after missing 14 games with an upper body injury, coach Joel Quenneville has shuffled their lines for Monday's game against the Edmonton Oilers. Sheldon Brookbank moves back on defence, while Michal Rozsival will be healthy scratch.

The lines are: Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Brandon Saad, Handzus - Brandon Pirri - Patrick Kane, Kris Versteeg - Andrew Shaw - Jeremy Morin and Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith.

The defensive pairings are Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy - Sheldon Brookbank.

Marian Hossa, who left the team Saturday to attend a family matter back in Chicago, will miss his second consecutive game. He’s expected to be back for Wednesday’s game against the Flames. Bryan Bickell remains out with a lower-body injury.

Seeking a third straight win, Corey Crawford will make his league-leading 23rd start of the season. The 28-year-old has played 14 consecutive games and is coming off a season-high 36-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Saturday at Rogers Arena.

Going streaking: Kane comes into Monday’s meeting, the second of three between the Blackhawks and Oilers this season, riding a 10-game point streak. He had an assist in Vancouver on Saturday.

Kane has historically feasted on the Oilers, scoring nine goals and 31 points in 24 career games vs. Edmonton.

“Every year Kaner has gotten a little bit better,” Quenneville said. “It seems like he's shooting the puck a bit better than he has in the past.

“I still think the part that makes him a better player this year is that defensively, he's improved that aspect of his game and that's why he's getting the puck more.”

Kane has cracked the Top 10 in league scoring with 12 goals and 25 points in 24 games. He credits much of that success to the way in which he approaches each game with a clean slate, forgetting about past accomplishments and focusing solely on the task at hand.

“To have a scoring streak, you need to have a couple breaks here and there,” he laughed. “You want to be consistent, you want to try and help the team create chances every game, but it’s important to move on -- whether it’s good or bad -- and approach each game as its own entity.

“Things are going well for me right now, but a lot of that has to do with my teammates and the success we’re having as a group.”

Getting it done: The Blackhawks come into Monday’s game 7-2-1 in their last 10 (16-4-4 overall), looking to stretch their Central Division lead and regain their post atop the NHL standings.

While they have had difficulty dispatching the pesky Oilers in recent years, the Hawks do hold a 1-0 season-series lead on the back of a 5-4 win back on Nov. 10 at the United Center.

“Coming in this building is kind of scary, and they're playing well right now,” Quenneville said. “They're a dangerous team, they're an attacking team and are dangerous off the rush. We've got to be more patient when we play these guys. If we don't, we get into a track meet and it seems like they're better at it than we are.”