The kids continue to be all right.
Defenseman Nick Leddy and forwards Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Bollig all can take a bow knowing they contributed greatly to the Blackhawks clinching a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Nick Leddy had a special game on the back end,” coach Joel Quenneville said after Sunday’s 5-3 win over Nashville. “He was moving well off the rush and is defending as good as we’ve ever seen him.
“Saad has been special all year, Shaw looked like he was back on track and Krugs has been Mr. Reliable, so we’re happy with all of them.”
Shaw centered the fourth line Sunday for Michael Frolik and Bollig and was one of the best players on the ice with a goal and assist.
“They had good shifts in the offensive zone the first couple shifts,” Quenneville said. “They hemmed them in their end with long shifts. They had a lot of possession time in the first period. I liked the motion and the movement and they got a lot of momentum when they scored.”
Impressed by Hawks:
Add Nashville coach Barry Trotz to the list of those impressed by the Hawks.
Trotz sees the Hawks doing a lot of the same things they did when they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
“Just from an outsider — the only guys that can answer that are Joel Quenneville and the Hawks — but playing them, their conviction on the defensive part of the game is probably a lot more committed than last year,” Trotz said. “When you play them they don’t give you a whole heck of a lot. They break out of their end very efficiently and they’re very deep.
“Some of their young guys have matured. They’re recommitment to the type and style of game that they played when they won the Cup. I think they recognize it. I think they have great leadership. They touched on all the factors that was the difference between a Cup-winning year and non-Cup winning year and they’re just recommitted.”
This will be the Hawks’ first game against Minnesota since the Wild got Sabres captain Jason Pominville at the trade deadline for two prospects, a first-round pick in 2013 and a second-rounder in 2014.
“They have some dangerous forwards,” Jonathan Toews said. “They’re with a lot of those other teams that are playing their rear ends off to stay in those playoff spots.”
Dave Bolland did not make the trip to Minnesota on Monday and will miss his third straight game with a foot injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday he didn’t think it was serious.
Patrick Sharp did make the trip and is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since missing the last 14 games with a left shoulder injury.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.