Chicago takes a step forward

Stars shine, bubble players make coach’s life difficult.


Chicago coach John Quenneville saw what he called the best pre-season game of his team. Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

ZURICH – Thumping the Swiss champions 9-2 was good news to the Chicago Blackhawks fans and team management, but even better was the way they did it. Their stars, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell showed the way by scoring three goals in the first period, and then the players fighting for their spots on the roster picked it up and carried the team the rest of the way. "I think we played our best pre-season game today," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "The players fighting for the spots aren't making things easy for us. They all came out with excellent games, and we'll be sorting things out now. Of course, we like the depth of our organization, and all of the players out on the ice tonight deserved to get the chance," he added. The European adventure, now into its third day, has already proved useful to Quenneville. "It’s been great being here, and the guys are coming together as a team. We've been treated so well here," he said. The bubble players may have caught the coach's attention, but for the fans, the big treat was seeing Kane and Toews hold a hockey clinic on how to make plays and score goals. The big rink didn’t give Davos any advantage. "There are some players on our team who liked the extra space, including myself, and we took it to our advantage tonight," Patrick Kane said. "They played a little different defensively, more man to man, and if you beat a man in that, there's more room to make a play. We had a lot of good plays tonight, and it was nice to see some of the players fighting for spots to score goals, too," he added. Kane's second of the night came off of a play where he beat a Davos defenceman, and drove to the net. "It was an around the world thing, I fought off the guy, and at the last second went for the goal, the puck was on my forehand and so I banged it in. It was nice to get one of those. In my first one, "Soupy" (Brian Campbell) made a really nice pass. You can go up and down the list of goals that were special tonight," he said. Beating the Swiss champions by seven goals wasn't what Kane had expected. "I’m a little surprised. I'm not sure if the score really reflects the game, to be honest. It was a team we'd never seen before, from a league we'd never seen before. Had they got one, it might have been a different game, now we got some big saves and timely goals. It was a good performance by our team, and at the same time, they have a good hockey team," he said. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks will take on the ZSC Lions, the winners of last season's Champions Hockey League. "Tomorrow might be a different game. I think we ought to come to a better start. We got 3-0 tonight, but (goaltender Antti) Niemi made some great saves there," Kane said. RISTO PAKARINEN
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