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Blackhawks defensemen need to shut the back door

Updated: December 9, 2011 8:20AM



As alarming as the Blackhawks’ bad power play is, the early trend of allowing easy goals to their opponents hurts just as much.

They’re leaving the back door wide open too much, and the topic of tap-in goals tends to incense coach Joel Quenneville.

“First, you have to be in that position, and the awareness is that you have to clear that,” Quenneville said. “The goalie has the shot. The loose pucks, the rebounds you have to clear. A lot of guys make that blind pass to that open side. The goalie can’t stop that play. You’re defending, that’s your job.”

Whose job is it?

“It’s the offside defenseman,” Quenneville said.

With Duncan Keith (finger/hand injury) looking like he’ll play Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, Quenneville altered every defensive pairing Monday at practice. Keith and Brent Seabrook were reunited, and the ­other pairings were Nick Leddy-Niklas Hjalmarsson and Sami Lepisto-Sean O’Donnell.

Special concerns

As of Monday, the Hawks’ power play was ranked 28th in the league, better than only the Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets (their next two opponents). After allowing five power-play goals to the Vancouver Canucks, the Hawks’ once-solid penalty kill plummeted to 22nd.

“We all have input on special teams,” Quenneville said of his coaching staff. “We all share the responsibility. [But] I’ll take the hit.”

Put him in

Quenneville said Rostislav Olesz, a healthy scratch the last 11 games, “likely” will play against the Blues. He skated on a line with Dave Bolland and Andrew Brunette on Monday at practice.



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