Things haven't gone exactly as planned for the Chicago Blackhawks since they hoisted the Stanley Cup in June 2010. In fact, they haven't won a Stanley Cup Playoff series.
But if Joel Quenneville's team continues to perform the way it has through the first quarter of this regular season, there's a good chance the Blackhawks could possess home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Quenneville has done a tremendous job in the early going. Through the Blackhawks' first 13 games -- 10 played on the road -- they are the only team in the NHL that has yet to suffer a regulation loss (10-0-3). That alone is good enough reason to choose Quenneville as our Jack Adams Award winner for the first quarter of the 2012-13 season.
Chicago finished last season with 101 points (45-26-11), good for sixth place in the Western Conference. But, just like in 2011, the Blackhawks headed home after the opening round of the playoffs. In a heated, six-game series that left Marian Hossa injured by a hit from Raffi Torres, the Blackhawks were eliminated by the Phoenix Coyotes.
Hossa is healthy now and has played a key role in Chicago's fast start with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 13 games. Patrick Kane, who scored that famous overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers to clinch the Blackhawks' first Stanley Cup in 49 years, leads the team with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists).
Peter DeBoer, New Jersey Devils: Less than a month after the Devils made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final, they lost captain Zach Parise via free agency to the Minnesota Wild. But under DeBoer's tutelage, David Clarkson has emerged as one of the premier power forwards in the League. Combine that with the stellar play of goalie Martin Brodeur and the club hasn't slowed a bit. The Devils have lost twice in regulation and sit atop the Eastern Conference with 19 points (8-2-3) -- remarkable.
Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks: Boudreau replaced Randy Carlyle 14 months ago and ran a shortened training camp last month due to the work stoppage, but he clearly has made his mark in Southern California. Though most expected the Los Angeles Kings or San Jose Sharks to be leading the Pacific Division, it's Boudreau's Ducks who are in first place with a record of 9-2-1. Boudreau has everyone contributing: Daniel Winnik leads the Ducks with five goals.
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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