Leddy finding consistency


Leddy finding consistency

COLUMBUS, Ohio Nick Leddy was getting the birthday wishes from his Blackhawks teammates at Tuesday mornings skate. But since he has a game tonight that 21st birthday party will have to wait.

Thatll be in a couple days, Leddy said with a laugh. But itll definitely be a lot of fun.

Leddys been growing up on the ice with the Blackhawks this season, and hes had the ups and downs that any 20-(or 21)-year-old would experience. But now paired with Johnny Oduya, Leddy has started to find more consistency in his game.

The young defenseman struggled earlier this season, and is still trying to turn his minus-12 rating around. But hes a plus-2 since he and Oduya got together eight-plus games ago, and Leddys been able to play a simpler game since.

They make a nice pair, coach Joel Quenneville said of that defensive tandem. But (Leddys) movement with the puck and his coming up the ice with speed, thats noticeable. It helps our team game as well. Hes defending better as we progress, too.

Leddy said he feels comfortable with Oduya. The Blackhawks trade-deadline acquisition brings a veteran presence and calm that benefits him.

His simplicity has been great; playing with him makes everything really easy and simple, Leddy said. It helps that hes been in the league for a while. He can teach me things. We talk on the bench quite a bit and were getting chemistry together.

Quenneville said Leddy still has room for growth. Any 21-year-old would. But Leddys with a good partner right now, and with time hell keep tapping into that potential.

His upside is tremendous, Quenneville said. There arent too many guys can come out of our own end, alleviate forechecking pressure and skate right through it without having to move the puck. Thats a great attribute in todays game. His play recognition with the puck is improving, and his experience around his own net is something hell get better at every day.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back against Panthers

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Florida Panthers Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

(Reminder: Use #AskEdzo on social media and your questions may be answered by Eddie Olczyk, who will be in studio along with Adam Burish, Brian Campbell and Pat Boyle).

1. Another fast start coming?

The Blackhawks had one of their best starts of the season Wednesday in Tampa Bay, and the numbers favor Chicago to dictate the pace of play early again.

The Panthers are tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the fewest goals scored in the first period (13), and have taken a lead into the second period only four times (3-1-0) in 21 games. They are 2-7-1 in the 10 games they've trailed after the opening frame.

The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are tied for fourth when it comes to first-period goals (22) — albeit, five of them came on Opening Night against Pittsburgh — but they are just 4-2-2 in eight games when leading after one period. In fact, they took a 2-0 lead into the second in their most recent game against the Lightning and lost in overtime 3-2.

So while a fast start could certainly be in the cards, the finish must also be there.

2. Take advantage on special teams.

The Panthers are one of two teams ranked among the bottom six in both power play percentage (26th at 16.0) and penalty kill percentage (30th at 73.2).

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are coming in hot in both areas. They're 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) on the man advantage in their last four games, and own the fourth-best penalty kill unit (84.8 percent).

This is the area to exploit for the Blackhawks going into the matchup, and it could decide the game.

3. Feed Lance Bouma!

In his seventh season, Bouma has faced every NHL team at least five times in his career, with the exception of Vegas (pointless in one game this season).

Bouma is not known for his offensive prowess (72 points in 325 career games), but it's a different story when he plays Florida.

In six career games against the Panthers, Bouma has one goal, six assists and a career-high plus-8 rating. That one goal also happens to be one of his six career game winners.

Florida is the only team Bouma is averaging at least a point-per-game against for his career, so you know what that means: Feed No. 17!

Did Steve Kerr troll the Bulls?


Did Steve Kerr troll the Bulls?

With Kevin Durant (ankle) and Draymond Green (rest) out, the Golden State Warriors had two starting forward positions open for Friday's game against the Bulls.

One of the two starters who replaced them? Jordan Bell. Does his name ring one, too?

Selected by the Bulls with the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bell was eventually traded to the Warriors in exchange for cash considerations.

The Oregon product hasn't played much this season for the defending champs, averaging just 3.2 points and 8.3 minutes in 12 games, but he made his first career start against ... his "former" team. Coincidence?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr (jokingly) explained why he gave the 22-year-old rookie the nod in the lineup.

Prior to the game, Bell also had this to say about his trade:

Bell couldn't have played better in his first career start. In 26 minutes, he recorded seven points, six rebounds, six blocks and four assists in a 143-94 Warriors win over the Bulls at Oracle Arena.