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Blackhawks Notebook: Defense, Correcting Mistakes Are Key

10/14/2008 4:26 PM - from (link)

With the team winless after three games (0-2-1), head coach Denis Savard and the Blackhawks are trying to take things in stride. While urgency is key for the team, so is staying on an even keel through the long NHL season.

“Who would’ve said at the beginning of the season that we’re not going to be on a three-game winless streak? That’s going to happen to every team,” said Savard. “Maybe that was our time. Let’s hope we stop it tomorrow.”

“There was a lot of hype over the summer and you get caught up in that. You go 0-2-1 and expectations all of the sudden fall down the drain,” said winger Patrick Kane. “It’s three games into the season – we’re going to start winning games soon.”

The primary concern to Savard and his staff is the mistakes that the Hawks have made in the past three games, such as the turnover that led to a breakaway Nashville goal by Kevin Klein on Monday night.

“No team plays a perfect game,” said Savard. “For us, to be where we want to get to, we’re going to correct some of the mistakes we’re making. We can’t beat ourselves.”

Savard also made it clear that his defensive players behind Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have to perform better than they have to start the season. Keith and Campbell both played about 30 minutes in Monday's game.

“We’ve told those guys (Campbell, Keith and Seabrook) they’re going to be playing a lot of minutes from day one,” said Savard. “I think our fourth, fifth and sixth guys- they have to play better. We’ve talked to them, and it’s a process with that, too.”

Savard also said that it’s important for his team to stay loose and not put to much pressure on themselves to win. If you do the little things well, he added, there won’t be a need to press.

“Have fun playing hockey – that’s a big thing,” said Kane. “I think everyone’s so uptight that we’re in the position that we are and we’ve just go to go out there and have fun.”

Eager Returns Wednesday

Winger Ben Eager, after serving his three-game suspension, is going to be in the Blackhawks’ lineup Wednesday night against Phoenix. The Hawks are looking for him to bring his energy and physical style of play to the fourth line.

“I worked hard this summer and I’m excited to get going,” said Eager. “It’s tough sitting out the first three games, but I’m ready to go tomorrow.”

“He’s going to be a physical player for us. I expect him to be on the ice for a goal, once in a while,” said Savard. “That’s what his role is – the energy guy.”

As for the team that Eager returns to, he says that a turnaround is coming soon after a rough start to the season.

“We’re right there- we’ve had lots of chances,” said Eager. “It just takes a few games to get in the rhythm. I think we’ll be fine.”

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