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Patrick a Sharp-shooter for Hawks in early-going

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- His nickname is "Shooter" and Patrick Sharp has a dog by the same name.
There is a reason for both, namely that Sharp has never met a shot he doesn't like. The Chicago Blackhawks would like him to keep shooting, too, especially considering how often the puck's been going in for Sharp of late.
He's netted 2 goals in each of the last two games and has 5 for the season -- which has him tied with three other players, including teammate Marian Hossa, for the NHL lead as the Hawks prepare to play Central Division rival St. Louis tonight.
What's his secret?
"No real answer for you," Sharp said after Monday's morning skate. "Wish I knew. I'd do it every game. Just a couple of good plays by the team and the puck was going in."
Sharp has actually done several things to increase his productivity of late, from recording a whopping 13 shots on goal at Columbus last Friday to putting himself in great position on the game-winner at home Saturday night against Buffalo.

"He's got a great stick. He's a goal scorer, but he seems to know that area around the net and gets rewarded around there. That was a nice play by (Kopecky) on the winning goal, but (Sharp) was in the right spot."
-- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Patrick Sharp

On that one, Tomas Kopecky slid Sharp a beautiful blind pass through the crease for an easy marker.
"He's got a great stick," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's a goal scorer, but he seems to know that area around the net and gets rewarded around there. That was a nice play by (Kopecky) on the winning goal, but (Sharp) was in the right spot."
Hossa second star: The League's second star of the week honors went to Hossa, who tallied 4 goals and 2 assists to help the Hawks go 3-1 last week.
Hossa is also tied for the League lead in goals with 5 and is off to a great start to the season.
"I just feel pretty good," Hossa said after recording a goal and assist in a 4-3 win against Buffalo on Saturday night. "I'm in good shape to start the season. When I'm getting good passes, I'm trying to do something with them. I feel like I have good movement right now."
Physical game expected:
Quenneville didn't tip his hand when asked if 6-foot-8 defenseman John Scott would be in the lineup against the Blues tonight, but Scott said he was playing forward.
If that's the case, he expects there to be some rough stuff despite St. Louis not having top enforcer Cam Janssen (concussion).
"It's a rivalry (Chicago) has, and St. Louis is like that with every team," Scott said. "It's just one of those things where you know what you're getting into before the game, and if they want to go down that road we'll see 'em there."

Scott said he prepares differently for teams like the Blues, who have developed a reputation for physical play.
"St. Louis ... they're known for 10 fights a game sometimes," Scott said. "(You) just watch out for your teammates a little more and keep an eye on the game a little more keenly than you would against a team like Buffalo, who doesn't really have anybody (who looks for fights)."
Blues winger Matt D'Agostini didn't give any reason to believe Scott was off in his assessment.
"If that's the style of play that's talked about us, I have no problem with that," said D'Agostini, who leads the Blues with 3 goals as their fourth-line right wing. "We're going to come out there and work hard and hit, and do what we've got to do to get under your skin. We've got a lot of big guys on our team, so we'll be hitting."
Leddy sent to minors: The Hawks sent highly-regarded 19-year old defenseman Nick Leddy to Rockford of the AHL on Sunday, and it was mostly about playing time.

"We want to make sure that he gets a lot of ice time and make sure that he gets to play in all situations," Quenneville said. "The American League's a great place to play for him, and there's still a possibility he could be back here at some point in time. We want him to continue to develop and play, and that's a great place for him."

Kane feeling better: After missing the trip to Columbus with an illness, Hawks forward Patrick Kane was back on the ice on Saturday night against Buffalo and went through the team's skate Monday morning with no issues. He is expected to play again on Monday night.
"I'm getting there," Kane said. "The biggest thing now is getting all my energy back and my appetite and things like that. For a couple days there I was down and out. They said it was just a fever, the flu or a virus that I caught. So it was a bunch of things. I remember just waking up and my whole body was sore. I don't know what it was."
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