For starters, big difference for Blackhawks

For starters, big difference for Blackhawks
November 5, 2011, 10:15 pm
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Defenseman Brent Seabrook summed it up as well as anyone on Friday night.

A big two points (Thursday night), travel, came out and got one (Friday) night; three out of four points on a road trip isnt bad, he said.

A simple breakdown of the back-to-back, but its accurate nonetheless. Even better, considering the team was missing No. 1 defenseman Duncan Keith in both games. And Seabrooks assessment is also somewhat of a microcosm of the first month of the Blackhawks season: not bad at all.

The Blackhawks are reversing two trends that hurt them early last season. Theyre getting points out of those close games and, in turn, theyre off to a better start. Make that a much better start; first place in the Western Conference better.

Lets take a quick comparison, shall we? At this point last season the Blackhawks had played 15 games and were 7-7-1, for 15 points. This season the Blackhawks have played 13 games in the same time span and are 8-2-3, good for 19 points.

Four more points, despite playing two fewer games. Not a bad tradeoff.

We feel good about our game, Viktor Stalberg said. We get one out of it (Friday) and good to get that one point at least. Last year we lost those points a few times.

Yes, those squandered late points were a particular point of frustration for the Blackhawks and coach Joel Quenneville last year. In the always tight Western Conference all of those missed late opportunities added up, and the Blackhawks were still fighting for a playoff spot in the final game of the season.

The phrase we left a lot of meat on that bone became a steady part of Quennevilles vernacular. Well this season, the Blackhawks are just about picking the bones clean.

Yes, kids, I know: theyre going to overtime and shootouts quite a bit already. Last year they werent in the early going; they were just losing those games in regulation. Points are points, and the Blackhawks are finding every way they can to grab them.

And they probably havent even hit their true potential yet. That power play has been skittish. The top line has had its moments, but hasnt broken out yet. Captain Jonathan Toews recognizes the Blackhawks are getting there.

This was a good little road trip but there are a lot of little things we could do better. But were getting closer to being the team we want to be, he said.

Not quite there on the ice, but still there at the top of the conference standings.

Not bad at all.