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Savard focusing on defense
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/10/2008 12:05 AM

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NEW YORK - Now here's a switch from recent seasons: The Blackhawks are confident they have enough offense.

It's playing better team defense that has been coach Denis Savard's focus since the start of training camp.

"We need to be a better defensive team," Savard said. "We'd like to get under 200 goals allowed. We're going to score goals, we don't have to worry about that. We just have to keep our goals against down."

The Hawks allowed 235 goals last season, which was the fourth most in the Western Conference.

Playing better defense doesn't mean only the goalies and the six defensemen in the lineup. It's a team commitment.

"I think we all have to be on the same page," said defenseman Brent Seabrook. "All the defensemen have to be on the same page with the goaltenders, and the forward have to be on the same page with us.

"Our forwards have got to come back and provide back pressure, and our defense has to step up and take away passing lanes with lots of talk and be as physical as we can. I think our team is more than capable of doing that."

The Hawks scored 239 goals last year. Only the Red Wings had more in the West with 257.

"We feel we have plenty of offense," said general manager Dale Tallon. "We were 10th in the league last year with a lousy power play and now we've got a healthy Marty Havlat.

"Our offense will be fine. It's a matter of improving our defense."

Follow the leaders: Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp will serve as alternate captains for the full season, according to Denis Savard.

Jonathan Toews was named captain last July.

While Keith and Sharp will sport the "A" on their jersey, Savard said the Hawks are six players deep in leaders, adding Brian Campbell, Brent Sopel and Brent Seabrook to the mix.

Pressure, what pressure? Denis Savard doesn't get caught up in all the talk about pressure being on the Hawks to get off to a good start.

"I don't know what pressure is," Savard said. "Preparation equals pressure for me.

"A lot of nights we won't be able to control the results, but we promise that our guys are going to play hard. We're going to be deep and be competitive."