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Blackhawks Notebook: Unheralded Players Stepping Up

10/23/2008 3:27 PM

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Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville is still getting to know the players on his new team; while he obviously knew about skaters like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Brian Campbell, he’s also found pleasant surprises in defenseman Aaron Johnson and forward Dave Bolland.

“I didn’t know that much about [Johnson] – I’ve seen him play a few times, but I’ve been impressed. I think Aaron’s been pretty good” said Quenneville. “He can see plays, he’s physical, and defensively he’s been sharp. He’s been very consistent every night.”

Quenneville added that Johnson, who scored his first goal of the season Wednesday, and Campbell have worked very well together on the blue line.

“That pair has been better,” he said. “I think these guys - their transitions on getting loose pucks and getting it on the offensive way has been effective. They relieve the pressure well.”

One of Quenneville’s other pleasant surprises so far has been Bolland, who registered his third assist of the year in last night’ win over Edmonton.

“He was really good last night; I thought he had a really good game. I’m comfortable with having him on the ice against just about anybody,” Quenneville said. “I didn’t know that much about him, [but] I’ve been pleased with everything about his game. I think he’s good on draws. The assignment of being on PPs and PKs at this stage in his career shows you what he’s capable of.”

Quenneville says that Bolland hasn’t reached his full potential on the offensive end, either. While he didn’t want to put a number on what he thinks Bolland’s ceiling might be, Quenneville praised Bolland’s “feel for the game.”

“He’s got a good feel for the game,” said Quenneville. “He’s got good vision and can make plays and he’s got some patience with the puck on the point. He’s not easy to play against.”

Quenneville said that he think the Hawks are finally clicking after earning points in their last four games, but said maintaining that success is their goal.

“I like the feel of the team; there are a lot of good assets here [and] I think we played three really good games in a row,” he said. “As far as trying to sustain it from start to finish – that’s what we’re trying to instill here.”