After scoring 11 goals in road wins at Los Angeles and Phoenix against two good goaltenders in Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith, the Blackhawks will open their home season Tuesday night at the United Center against the St. Louis Blues.
Marian Hossa is off to a great start with 4 goals and 5 points while Patrick Kane has a goal and 3 assists.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has been able to roll four lines with terrific success so far.
Second line center Dave Bolland has 2 goals and 3 points, and third line left wing Viktor Stalberg has a goal, as does fourth line winger Michal Frolik.
“We have four lines going right now,” Quenneville told reporters after Sunday night’s 6-4 win over the Coyotes. “They’re all capable of playing together and playing against anybody. Especially playing on the road, where you don’t get particular matchups, you trust everybody out there. We like the depth.”
“It’s only two games, but I feel good about us rolling four lines,” said Hossa, who compared it to the Stanley Cup winning season in 2010. “Everyone’s more energized instead of playing two or three lines and getting tired.”
OK, let’s not get too carried away by a pair of wins.
“The 2010 team had four lines we were rotating; everybody was going,” Quenneville said.
Hossa’s fast start is giving the entire team a lift.
“It definitely feels good, but you can’t expect 2 goals every night,” Hossa said. “It’s nice to have a good start, and I’ll just go about it like that.”
“Coming back from a concussion, he’s playing the same Hossa game he’s always played,” said linemate Jonathan Toews. “He’s one of the best players in the league, with his size, his stick, his vision. I think he’s probably the best player in the league, and a crucial player to our lineup.”
Quenneville certainly appreciates what he has in Hossa.
“Whether it’s his production or his play or his positioning, he does everything right,” Quenneville said. “Sometimes you might not be able to reflect that when you look at numbers, but as a coach you appreciate him being on the ice in all situations and all aspects of his game. He plays your team game perfect. He’s got some real good pace, some good energy, and he’s got off to a real good start here.”
Bolland so far is taking to his new role as second line center, skating between Kane and Patrick Sharp.
“This is a great opportunity,” Bolland said. “Coming up, I was just trying to stay in this league. I knew I had a job to shut down the other team’s top line and I was great at it, but I have the opportunity now to take that second line role. I just have to get used to playing in the offensive zone.”
On defense, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were solid at Phoenix and Michal Rozsival had 2 assists in his Hawks debut.
“I thought (Oduya) had two outstanding games,” Quenneville said. “He’s kind of played the way he did when he came to our team. He really helped turn the team around. He can kill plays, he’s got a quick stick, he makes a lot of direct plays and he’s got great instincts. I think him and Hammer maker a nice pair.”
Tuesday’s opener against the Blues is one of only two home games among the Hawks’ first 12 to start the season.
“You look at our schedule and it’s very challenging,” Quenneville said. “We want to make sure we put ourselves in a good position at the end of this stretch here. Trying to get points on the road is what we’re trying to do. We were very happy with both games in all aspects of our game.”
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