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At the Rink blog

Blackhawks pleased with balanced, prolific start

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 2:03 PM

By Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Blackhawks pleased with balanced, prolific start

DALLAS -- There’s no doubt things are going well for the Chicago Blackhawks as Joel Quenneville’s club is off to a 3-0 start, their best since 1972-73 when the Blackhawks began that season with four straight victories.

"Yeah, it [our start] is huge, but we can’t look at it too much," wing Patrick Kane said. "It's only been three games. We've had a good start. Right now I think the biggest question for us is can we keep it up? We feel we've got the team in here that can do it."

The Blackhawks have erased all but one opposing power play so far this season, making their penalty kill tied for third-best in the NHL at 90 percent. But maybe the biggest story for Chicago through three games has been their incredible offensive balance.

Defenseman Nick Leddy is tied for the team lead in assists with three, and blueliners Johnny Oduya and Michael Rozsival are right behind him with two helpers each. Chicago is getting contributions from the usual suspects Kane (two goals, three assists), Marian Hossa (four goals, one assist) Patrick Sharp (one goal, two assists), Jonathan Toews (one goal, two assists) but it’s the offensive balance his club has displayed thus far that has their coach especially pleased.

“We’re getting good contributions across the board. When your best players are your best players, you’re usually going to be OK,” Quenneville said. “But we like the contribution we’re getting across the board right now and I think the balance in our four lines is helping as well.”

The Blackhawks are pleased to start the season 3-0 but that optimism is tempered a bit in knowing that they are only three games into a truncated 48-game season.

“Yeah, it’s still pretty early but it’s nice to win the three games and I think they guys are skating fast, playing at a high pace and that’s impressive because not a lot of us played during the lockout,” Sharp said. “It’s a short season. You want to get in and gather as many points as you can and so far so good.”

And no one is tempering his team’s optimism or expectations more than the man behind the Chicago bench.

“Every game’s meaningful. It seems like it’s a playoff race already. The intensity is amazing,” Quenneville said. “Dallas is working hard here. They play a nice, simple team strong game. Let’s be respectful of what they do, but we’ve got to make sure we keep getting better as we go along here and not be satisfied with what happened.”

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What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

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