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Joel Quenneville showing faith in rookie Dylan Olsen

Defenseman Dylan Olsen has been paired with Duncan Keith has been playing penalty kill. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Defenseman Dylan Olsen has been paired with Duncan Keith and has been playing on the penalty kill. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 23, 2012 8:25AM



It’s a good thing Blackhawks rookie defenseman Dylan Olsen has held his own. The team might need him longer than anticipated.

It’s uncertain what general manager Stan Bowman will be able to grab by Monday’s trade deadline considering the number of available defensemen diminishes almost daily.

Plus, the injury status of defenseman Steve Montador sounds more ominous every day coach Joel Quenneville says, “No change.”

Quenneville, meanwhile, continues to show a lot of faith in Olsen, 21, by pairing him with Duncan Keith and playing him more than others. He played over veteran Sean O’Donnell on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings and has seen more minutes than Sami Lepisto in every game they’ve been in the lineup together.

“Ever since I got paired with [Keith], I think we’ve played really well together,” Olsen said. “I think we read off each other well and support each other. We’re always talking to each other. He’s always helping me out and telling me what to do in certain situations. I’ve enjoyed playing with him.”

Getting paired with Keith surprised Olsen, but playing on the penalty kill didn’t. The Hawks’ brass told him to expect short-handed minutes when he was recalled. He already has played more on the penalty kill than Montador and Lepisto combined.

“They gave me an opportunity, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of helping out the PK,” said Olsen, whose 6-2, 214-pound frame helps him around the net.

The most important thing, Olsen said, is being more mindful when he has the puck. He had a bad turnover Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets that nearly resulted in a goal, but Corey Crawford bailed him out.

“It’s just mental mistakes, trying to make passes that I shouldn’t make,” Olsen said. “I just have to keep it simple and make the smart plays up the wall or off the glass. I’ve always known, growing up, that you’re not supposed to throw the puck through the middle of the ice in the D-zone.”



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