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updated: 12/21/2013 11:16 PM

Pretty much all systems go for Blackhawks

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  • Canucks center Mike Santorelli, right, clears the puck after the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp tried to split the defense of goalie Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev (8) and Ryan Kesler (17) in the third period Friday night.

      Canucks center Mike Santorelli, right, clears the puck after the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp tried to split the defense of goalie Eddie Lack, Chris Tanev (8) and Ryan Kesler (17) in the third period Friday night.
    Associated Press


The Blackhawks lead the NHL in goals with 136 and have six players in double digits. That's the good news.

The bad news is they have allowed 101, largely because of their 28th-ranked penalty-killing unit. But even that area of the Hawks' game has shown some improvement as we approach the season's midpoint.

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Offensively, there isn't a better team in the league thanks to Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw, all of whom have 10 goals or more.

Defensemen Duncan Keith (32 points) and Brent Seabrook (24) also are in the midst of a big year offensively.

Kane leads the way with 21 goals and 27 assists, including points in 23 of the last 24 games.

"He's been good," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's a confident kid, but his patience level with the puck and his play recognition is as high as it's ever been.

"It seems like he has the puck a lot as well. He's making a lot of nifty plays. Every night there's two or three A-plus chances and a lot of times he manufactures on his own. He's been real good."

The Hawks are rolling four lines and not thinking twice about it. Against the Canucks, the fourth line of Marcus Kruger, Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith found themselves matched up with Vancouver's top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin more times than not.

"We like our rotation of lines and the depth we have," Quenneville said. "Offensively and defensively, we're all comfortable with the ability to create offense as well as we check."

Saad continues to get better and better in his second year in the league with 12 goals and 26 points.

"You've got a guy like Saad, and whatever line he's on he seems to give it some jump," Quenneville said.

"Kaner, he draws a lot of attention. Jonny's line gets a lot of attention and gives us more depth to our lineup, and a lot of games you're going to need that."

The power play has been real good, although it went 0-for-4 in Friday's 3-2 loss to Vancouver in a shootout.

Still, there was no frustration in the dressing room after the game.

"You can't win them all," Toews said. "We'll bounce back in a couple days. We know that after these couple days (off for Christmas), there has to be another level we need to get to that we didn't get to tonight."

The Hawks play New Jersey on Monday, then take a three-day break for Christmas along with the rest of the league.

"It's been a real busy stretch here and I know we have a couple days off here coming up," Quenneville said. "We can't think it's going to be easy just because we're at home. You've got the holidays and a lot of things that can get you away from where you need to be come game time.

"Let's take advantage of being home here and get excited about every game."

•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at

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