Blackhawks

Improved Leddy off to quick start

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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.
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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.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.