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Many factors spark Hawks' defensive success
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/11/2009 9:58 PM

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BUFFALO, N.Y. - There's a perception of the Blackhawks as being this offensive-minded team that flies around the ice looking to score as many goals as possible.

That's only part of their identity. The Hawks have become a very good defensive club as well and, in fact, were first in the NHL in defense before Friday's game against the Sabres with a 2.09 team goals-against average.

"I think our team defense has been effective this year because we've had the puck a lot," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a good stat. It's a reflection how your team plays, a reflection on your goaltending and your defense, but I still like to score goals and that balance is something we're striving for.

"Our defense has played very well this year," Quenneville said, singling out Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. "I think the consistency on our back end, be it Duncs and Seabs getting matchup minutes, and Hammer getting important minutes and coming in and being a real consistent and dependable defense, has been key."

Attention getter: Defenseman Brian Campbell was booed every time he touched the puck upon his return to HSBC Arena for the first time since the Sabres traded him to San Jose in 2008.

It was similar to what Campbell hears in San Jose from the fans who still hold it against him for bolting from the Sharks to sign with the Hawks as a free agent.

"I notice it, it's hard not to," Campbell said. "The first time you're like, 'Whoa, what's going on?' I've never had that before, but you take it as a compliment.

"I was traded from Buffalo so it's a little bit different, but it won't affect how I feel about Buffalo and love that city."

Together again: Friday's game marked the first time Patrick Kane and Tim Kennedy, his boyhood friend and neighbor from South Buffalo, faced each other in an NHL game.

"It's great to see him playing for the Sabres," Kane said. "I remember growing up sitting behind the bench always wanting to be a Sabre until I actually came to Chicago. I'm sure it's a dream come true for him."

Kane secured two suites for the game to accommodate his family and friends.

"I don't think it will be too tough for him to cover with that new deal he signed," Kennedy said.

Have a seat: Sabres coach Lindy Ruff decided to start backup goalie Patrick Lalime instead of Ryan Miller against a non-Eastern Conference opponent.

Miller, who has appeared in 25 of Buffalo's 29 games, will start tonight against the Rangers in New York.

"Ryan needs a break," Ruff said.