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Blackhawks know patience is necessary evil

by Dan Rosen

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews understands the concept of having patience, how it can be a virtue, and why it's a particularly necessary asset for him and the Chicago Blackhawks to have at the start of this season.

That doesn't mean Toews, Chicago's captain, has to like the need for patience or wants any part of it. Haste is what Toews feels. A sense of urgency is the asset he wants his team to have. Slowly working into a season is not for him; it's not his style.

"Especially for myself, sometimes you want to go, you want things to work right away, and when they don't you can get frustrated," Toews said. "As a team I think we know how to handle that now."

Toews is hoping what he saw Wednesday is a sign of that urgency growing on the Blackhawks quickly.

Chicago's season started at United Center with a banner-raising ceremony signifying their Stanley Cup championship from last season. The night ended with the Blackhawks on the wrong end of the score in a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers because of a slow start that led to a preventable goals in a poor first period and a deficit they couldn't overcome despite a strong second and third periods.

"The first period, I don't know, we had a little delay in our switch with the puck and without the puck, going to people slowly," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We gave them a couple of goals late in the first that were definitely preventable."

But Quenneville, like Toews, knows patience is a necessary evil for the Blackhawks at the start of this season. The team that won the Stanley Cup on June 15 was definitely not the same team that gave up three goals in the first period Wednesday.

Gone are multiple Cup winners such as forwards Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards, and defenseman Johnny Oduya. Instead, the Blackhawks had two rookies, forwards Artemi Panarin and Kyle Baun, making the NHL debuts against the Rangers. They had forwards Ryan Garbutt and Artem Anisimov as well as defenseman Trevor Daley making their debuts in Chicago uniforms.

In addition, forward Teuvo Teravainen, in the American Hockey League for the majority of last season before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is expected to play a big role on the team this season. So too is defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was limited to 18 games as a rookie last season because of injury and didn't return until the Stanley Cup Final, when he played in four games.

"There's tremendous upside, but tons of little things out there that will fall into place for us," Toews said. "Nothing huge to worry about. I think we got the talent, we got the personnel, the character and so on. We have all the tangibles and intangibles. We'll just go out there and execute better."

They didn't execute well at all in the first period.

Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg scored his first NHL goal off a 3-on-2 rush at 1:43. Defenseman Kevin Klein blasted a one-timer past goalie Corey Crawford from the left circle for a 6-on-5 goal during a delayed penalty at 16:38. New York center Derek Stepan scored a tap-in goal from the slot after Daley wiped out Crawford in his hasty chase back to the net after his shot in the far end was blocked by Kevin Hayes.

Daley and van Riemsdyk each was minus-2 in the first period.

"My patience is rather short as far as watching us give up leads or kinds of goals that are all preventable by every single guy on the ice," Quenneville said.

However, Quenneville admitted that he stayed patient with his lines and defense pairs after the first period despite being down 3-1. He knows getting this team to come together is a process that is going to take some time. He's right to think that way and to approach it with that attitude, even if he hates the very concept of staying patient.

Then again, if what Chicago showed in the second and third is an indication, Quenneville's patience shouldn't be tested for too long.

"We got better," he said.

Their skill was obvious. They had the puck more. They attacked on their toes when before they were defending on their heels. They nearly tied the score with 1:00 remaining, but Patrick Kane's wound-be goal was waved off by the referees.

Panarin was especially impressive in his NHL debut. The 23-year-old Russian built on the confidence he gained by scoring his first NHL goal at 14:24 of the first period and was able to have the puck almost every time he was on the ice in the final two periods.

"Looked like he had the puck all night," Quenneville said. "It was a good start for him."

It was for his linemates as well. Anisimov and Kane joined Panarin to form what Quenneville said was the Blackhawks' best line of the game. Nobody was quite sure how that line would work mainly because Panarin, as skilled as he is, is a wild card as a rookie.

"No doubt those three were moving the puck well," Toews said. "It didn't take them any time to go out there and create offense."

Teravainen, who played on the top line with Toews and Marian Hossa, scored in the second period on a one-timer off a feed from Hossa.

Teravainen was critical of his game, saying he needs to hound the puck more, have the puck more. Quenneville said the same thing, even though he knows it's going to be difficult for Teravainen to have the puck as much as he wants when he plays with Toews and Hossa.

Toews was just happy to see Teravainen and Panarin score; he knows that without Sharp and Saad, they are going to be critical to Chicago's success this season.

"Those two guys are the types of guys that will really give us some scoring depth," Toews said. "They will be scoring a good number of goals for us and it's nice for them to get that confidence early."

The Blackhawks didn't necessarily get their confidence and swagger Wednesday, because it's hard to feel good about anything after a loss. What they instead got was a lesson that patience is required, and a feeling that they might not need to have it for too long.

"It's one game, and I think it was a pretty quick adjustment," Toews said. "If we can do that in one game, I don't think the season is going to reflect that at all. It's not that we don't have patience, but I think we'll have that urgency that we know we have to be better."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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