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updated: 5/3/2014 1:10 AM

Series with Wild special one for Leddy

Game 1 performance surely impressed his Minnesota-based grandparents

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  • Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy pressures the Wild's Nino Niederreiter during the first period Friday in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series at the United Center.

       Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy pressures the Wild's Nino Niederreiter during the first period Friday in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series at the United Center.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

Nick Leddy's grandparents had to enjoy watching that on their TV up in Minnesota.

Grandson Nick skated swiftly -- because that's what he does so well -- to help foil Zach Parise's breakaway in a welcome-to-the-conference-semifinals moment late in the opening period at the United Center on Friday night. The Blackhawks' defenseman, 23 years young but a veteran of four NHL seasons, bothered Minnesota's star winger with a swinging stick, and Corey Crawford made a huge save on the short-handed chance.

Less than a minute later, the Blackhawks had a 1-0 lead thanks to Bryan Bickell's deflection of a Brent Seabrook slap shot.

Minnesota fans must still shake the heads. Never mind the Blackhawks' series-opening 5-2 win.

A first-round pick of the Wild (16th overall) in 2009, hometown-boy Leddy was dealt to the Blackhawks in February of 2010. Veteran defenseman Kim Johnsson came along too for former first-rounder Cam Barker, who was last seen playing for Barys Astana in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"It's always nice playing a team you grew up watching," said Leddy, who in 2009 for Eden Prairie High won Minnesota's Mr. Hockey award as the state's top high school senior. "My grandparents don't always get the channels down here, so it's nice for them to be able to watch and see me play."

Grandson Nick was making the grandparents proud again in the second period, assisting on Marian Hossa's power-play goal. It was second point (both assists) for Leddy in the Blackhawks' seventh playoff game.

Granted, Leddy threw an elbow into Dany Heatley's face shortly afterward. But the Blackhawks killed off the minor penalty, and the home team took a 2-0 lead into the third period.

It was that kind of defensive effort through two periods that Leddy knows will be key for the Blackhawks in the series.

"I think the past series (against St. Louis) was a very heavy, defensive type of series," Leddy said. "I thought we did a great job of playing defensively. I think if we play a good team defense, the offense will come. We have enough skill on this team that the offense will come naturally."

Patience will be key for the Blackhawks offense against the Wild, which likes to trap and clog the neutral zone.

"Yeah, they have a lot of layers," Leddy said. "They play a very good team defense. We just got to keep things simple and keep playing the way we have been."

It was a year ago that Leddy got his first taste of playoff hockey against the team that drafted him. The Blackhawks eliminated the Wild in the first round. He acknowledged the experience might have been overwhelming.

"Maybe a little bit, just because it was my first time playing back there, especially since everything in the playoffs is a little more exciting," Leddy said. "This time I'll have a little better clue of what's going on."

For sure, he'll enjoy playing Games 3 and 4 in the state where he grew up. The novelty of playing the Wild hasn't worn off.

"I think it's still exciting," Leddy said. "Getting to play against a team I grew up watching, that just makes everything exciting."

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