After putting 11 pucks past Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith, there was plenty of talk about how the Blackhawks' offense was clicking on all cylinders. But following the Hawks' 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Tuesday night's home-opener, captain Jonathan Toews credited the team's defensive mentality.
"We realize that off of our work ethic and our checking mentality, we're going to get offensive chances," Toews said. "But we don't get one without the other. I think we can attribute those three wins to that commitment right there.
"As forwards, we're trying our best to be responsible and come back with our sticks on the ice and moving our feet and taking away seams for other teams to go cross-ice on the rush. It helps our D-men step up a little bit and put pressure on the gap when they're coming in our zone and defensmen, too.vWe're all moving our feet. No one's caught watching the play. It's a five-man unit. We're really helping each out really well. You complement each other like that and have four lines clicking like they are, you're going to find a way to beat some good teams, and we have so far."
That commitment to defense and backchecking makes coach Joel Quenneville's job a lot easier, too. Matchups are less of a concern when every line is playing responsible hockey.
"The defensive part of our game, the quickness, the transition," Quenneville said when asked where he's seen improvement from last season. "Rotating the four lines, where you've got a complement, anybody can play against anybody most nights and most shifts. That's a nice thing to have right now."
Contributing: Mark Potash