Two games in, Blackhawks getting a 2010 feeling about 2013

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Two games in, Blackhawks getting a 2010 feeling about 2013

PHOENIX The Blackhawks lines rolled out at their respective times, each doing its part against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, then the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday. Some scored. Some defended. But all played good, effective minutes.

It was enough to get Marian Hossa reminiscing.

Right now, it feels like 2010.

The Blackhawks have been yearning to get four lines going again since that Stanley Cup-winning season. And in their first two games, theyve been getting them. Everyone is playing, everyone is contributing in some fashion. And that four-line effort gave the Blackhawks two victories on that opening road trip out West.

We have the four lines going. Its only two games, but I feel good about us rolling four lines, Hossa said. Everyones more energized instead of playing two or three lines and getting tired.

Sure, every team wants four lines going. But in this frenetic 48-game season, the more that can occur the better off a team will be. On training camps opening day, coach Joel Quenneville stated it was a must in the abbreviated season. And whether its his new combinations, the familiarity players have with each other or the fact everyones so happy to be playing again, hes getting it.

Just like he did three seasons ago. That Cup-winning squad had been building and getting familiar with each others style for a few seasons. It all came together that year when their talent and familiarity allowed for four lines rolling consistently. This seasons team didnt change much from last year, so players are once again getting comfortable with each other. And its showing in the lines.

The 2010 team had four lines we were rotating; everybody was going. Thats what were talking about this season, Quenneville said. I like how all our players are capable of playing together and playing against anyone. Especially on the road, we trust everybody out there. I like the depth; well probably get challenged with it, but itll help us.

The time-on-ice numbers say it all for the Blackhawks. Fourth-liner Brandon Bollig had the lowest TOI tally of 5 minutes, 40 seconds, but probably wouldve had more if not for his fight with Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette. The rest of the Blackhawks forwards had 10 minutes or more each. Brandon Saad, in his season debut, had 13:31 with top liners Jonathan Toews and Hossa.

The numbers dont lie; the four lines were rolling on a weekend when the Blackhawks needed to conserve energy, needed everybody to be involved. In turn, theyve been fresher, and have capitalized on plenty of scoring chances. The Blackhawks have 11 goals in their first two games; 15 of the 20 skaters who played in the first two games have at least one point.

The cores been here for a while; we know each other and how its going to be, center Dave Bolland said. And with other guys who have come in, weve bonded pretty quick to adapt to what we have to do.

Quenneville said, Guys want the puck. We have good speed in our team game right now. Weve had some odd-man breaks, had some fortunate luck around the net. You look at how hard it was to score against (the Coyotes) in the playoffs and tonight they went in.

The Blackhawks got off to the start they wanted. Theyre getting more consistent contributions across the board. And theyre getting a sense that this 2013 group, right now, has that 2010 feel to it.

We need all four lines rolling. And we have the team that can do that, whether were down or up (on the scoreboard), Bolland said. We have a great team, with great depth.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win in Minnesota

Here are some of Tuesday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

Jonathan Toews has five-point night, including a hat trick, in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Report: Bears seeking trade partners for Jay Cutler

Bulls Talk Podcast: What is the Bulls' approach at the trade deadline?

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

Northwestern's offense nowhere to be found as Illini complete sweep of season series

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Why Sammy Sosa compared himself to Jesus Christ in candid interview

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

Quick Hits: Blackhawks respond the right way in win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild have faced each other a lot the past few seasons, especially when you factor in the postseason series. But if we got a whole series like Tuesday night's game, I don't think anyone would argue against it.

Great energy, great action, great performances, including a big one from the Blackhawks' captain. But we'll get to that soon enough. Here are the notables from the Blackhawks' 5-3 victory over the Wild.

What Worked: The Blackhawks' second-period response. The last time the Blackhawks were here they took a lead but watched the Wild come back with a fury. You wondered if the same would happen on Tuesday night after Mikael Granlund's power-play goal tied the game 1-1 early in the second. But the Blackhawks turned up the intensity, retaking the lead just 41 seconds later (Richard Panik) and putting the Wild on the defensive the rest of the period. The Blackhawks outshot the Wild 13-5 in the second.

What Didn't Work: The penalty kill. The Blackhawks only took two penalties on Tuesday night but they were both costly. The Wild – namely Mikael Granlund – made them pay with two power-play goals, including one with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation. The Wild have shown this season that they won't go away quietly in any game. They just about came back in this one, thanks to their power play.

Star of the game: Jonathan Toews. Yeah, you're all shocked at this one, aren't you? The goaltenders stole the show in the first period by the end of this one, it was all Toews all the time with a five-point night that included his fourth career regular-season hat trick. Coach Joel Quenneville said during Toews' struggles that he figured the captain would turn it around at some point. And here we are. "Jonny's done so many things for us," Quenneville said. "An amazing player, as competitive as you'll ever find. What a great leader, great captain."

He Said It: "We want to get that top spot and chasing that [Minnesota Wild] team, it's a huge win on the road. Hopefully we can keep playing that same style. It's a lot of fun to play. We have all four lines going and we're doing a lot of good things. Hopefully we can keep this going." Nick Schmaltz on the Blackhawks' current game.

[SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey]

By the Numbers: 

400 – Career victories for coach Joel Quenneville behind the Blackhawks bench. 

7 – Consecutive road victories for the Blackhawks which, according to them and Elias Sports, ties a franchise record originally set Dec. 9-29, 1964.

13 – Points for Richard Panik (six goals, seven assists) since Jan. 22.

100th – Career game for Dennis Rasmussen.

2 – Career five-point games for Jonathan Toews. His previous one came Nov. 25, 2011 against the Anaheim Ducks.