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.