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Hawks center Dave Bolland might return Sunday against Blues

Updated: May 14, 2013 6:21AM



Dave Bolland, the Blackhawks’ scuffling second-line center, might return to the lineup Sunday at St. Louis. And Dave Bolland, the proven postseason performer and pest, might not be far behind.

Bolland, who missed his fourth consecutive game Friday with a nagging lower-leg injury, always has played his best hockey in the playoffs, particularly as a third-line irritant, getting under the skin of top players such as the Canucks’ Henrik and Daniel Sedin. And while Bolland has scored only two goals since mid-February — one of which was an own-goal by the Red Wings’ Jakub Kindl — he’s hoping to recapture his postseason magic when the calendar flips to May.

In 327 career regular-season games, Bolland has 70 goals and 98 assists, an average of 0.51 points per game. In 49 postseason games, Bolland has 14 goals and 23 assists, an average of 0.76 points per game.

‘‘Some people say some guys are [only] good during the regular season, and it’s tough to sustain that pace in the playoffs,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Some guys welcome the challenge of big games, [and that’s] when they seem to be best. If I had my choice, I’d like that [seasonlong] consistency you look for in players, but I still like guys that play in big games and seem to rise to those challenges.’’

Watch and wait

The Hawks have spent the entire season atop the Western Conference standings and entered play Friday with a five-point lead — and two games in hand — on the Ducks. But while their spot is secure, the Hawks are keeping a close eye on the standings, trying to figure out which team they might face in the first round. The Red Wings entered play Friday in eighth place, but the Wild, Coyotes, Stars and Blue Jackets are still in the picture.

‘‘I look at it all the time, from the first game of the season, especially in a 48-game season,’’ winger Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘The standings change all the time, but you want to be conscious of what’s going on in your conference.’’

Quenneville said he was ‘‘absolutely’’ watching games and watching the standings. But he’s not zeroing in on the Red Wings just yet.

‘‘It could happen, but there’s four, five or six other options that look like they could easily happen,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s probably too early to start thinking like that. As you get a little closer, you might zone in to one, two or three teams. Right now, it’s premature.’’

LeBlanc in fold

St. Cloud (Minn.) State forward Drew LeBlanc won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey Friday, then agreed to a contract with the Hawks. The contract is essentially for the rest of this season and the playoffs, and he’ll be a restricted free agent July 1.

LeBlanc, 23, had 13 goals and 37 assists in 42 games this season, leading the Huskies to their first
appearance in the Frozen Four. He led the country in assists and was seventh in scoring.

LeBlanc will report to the Hawks and wear No. 14.



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