Reporting Connor McKnight
During the Blackhawks 6-3 win over the Oilers Monday night, I found myself impressed by the play of Blackhawks defensemen. Whether Steve Montador was stepping up into the play and putting moves on display that even he didn’t know he had or Nick Leddy blasting away from the point to generate a goal, I thought the Hawks blue-liners were more than solid.
I’ll admit that I had my concerns over Leddy taking a big role in the Blackhawks plans this season. It’s not that I didn’t think he had talent–he clearly does. It’s not that I didn’t think he had potential–he’s got more of that than maybe anything. What I didn’t think he had was the seasoning to make enough of an impact right away this year.
Clearly, I’ve been wrong. I’m OK with that.
The Blackhawks needed a strong start this season, if only to stop the conversation from turning to how last year’s poor start may have doomed them. After taking 16 of 20 points from their home games in the early part of this season, they’ve dealt with that issue.
Leddy, for his part, has look solid throughout. Sunday night, in fact, might have been his best game yet.
He was strong when forcing Oilers off the puck and made great use of his stick to force Oiler rushes wide and deep, thereby making them ineffective. He seemed much more willing to let a shot go. He’s not got the biggest shot from the blue line but it’s certainly more than serviceable.
Duncan Keith fired in a goal as well making it four points for Blackhawks defensemen on the night.
The worry, however, stays at the blue line. Brent Seabrook appeared to lose an edge in the second period and that sent him hard into the end boards. He did skate off the ice on his own power but was favoring his left leg. Seabrook did not return to the ice and was termed by Joel Quenneville as “day-to-day.”
Should Seabrook miss an extended period of time, look to see Leddy step into even bigger minutes for the Hawks. He’s shown he’s worthy of those minutes through the first 18 games and I’m definitely OK with that.