Improved Leddy off to quick start

723094.png

Improved Leddy off to quick start

Nick Leddy went through his ups and downs in his sophomore season.
Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman put up solid numbers, especially in assists, where his 34 were second on the team only to Duncan Keith (36). But Leddy was also a minus-12 on the season, a number that definitely needed to improve.
And in this early season, Leddy has been an improved defenseman.
Leddy started the season with an assist in each of his first four games, and is sitting at a minus-1 during the Blackhawks run to a 5-0-0 start. Leddy, whos in the final season of his three-year contract, is looking to regain the defensive game he showed signs of during his first season with the Blackhawks. While the lockout dragged on for months, Leddy honed his game with the Rockford IceHogs. He came back to Chicago looking more confident.
That definitely helped, Leddy said of Rockford. And weve all been playing together here (for two seasons). We all had a lot of chemistry together and that definitely helps.
Coach Joel Quenneville said some of Leddys improvement just comes from playing more.
With defensemen, as they mature, the more opportunities they see. That helps you in all aspects of your game, Quenneville said. The more you play the better you play; he got playing time in all situations down there and that should help.
WATCH: Hawks take down Blue Jackets, stay undefeated
Leddy said he mostly needed to improve his defensive coverage and Rockfords coaches helped him do that, be it with on-ice tutelage or watching video.
Its about being stronger on my stick in front of the net, making that first strong play and helping get the puck out of the zone, Leddy said. I really needed to work on that.
Quenneville said hes noticed Leddys better defending work, be it even strength or special teams.
Hes got a better stick, hes coming up with some loose pucks and when he starts the rush from our end he can alleviate that pressure and skate by people, Quenneville said. Hes been good on power-play entries as well; and hes got a good shot. Hes been playing different kind of minutes against different kind of guys. Were comfortable against any kind of matchup with him out there but theres been overall improvement in his game.
Leddy has been a steady presence in the Blackhawks lineup but has had two different partners, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank. Both provide a veteran presence for Leddy, who said its nothing to adjust to eachs style.
They have a little different styles but its nice that we all make a simple, easy play, he said. Everyone has their own style. You just have to get used to it.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks top Stars; Bears reportedly set to sign Mark Sanchez

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks top Stars; Bears reportedly set to sign Mark Sanchez

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Corey Crawford bounces back with 42 saves in Blackhawks’ shootout win over Stars

Bears adding Mark Sanchez shouldn't come as a surprise

White Sox ace Jose Quintana puts on a show in victory over Reds

Cubs president Theo Epstein, world's greatest leader? 'The pope didn't have as good of a year'

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Alabama DL Jonathan Allen

How Cubs decided Kyle Hendricks would be their fifth starter

NBA Buzz: 2017 Draft could be the best in more than a decade

Would the Bears consider selecting Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer?

Ed Belfour reflects on fulfilling 'childhood dream' of playing for Blackhawks