Montador's addition paying off for Hawks

November, 14, 2011
11/14/11
12:39
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- He has never reached 30 points in any one season of his career. In fact, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador’s high point total was 26 last season.

But that didn’t stop general manager Stan Bowman from pronouncing him as an “underrated” offensive player when the Hawks signed him to a four-year, $11-million deal this past summer.

For 15 games Bowman’s words didn’t make much sense, but then Montador was tapped to play the slot in the power play and everything changed.

“Given certain chances I just want to take advantage,” Montador said after scoring two goals in a 6-3 win over Edmonton on Sunday. “Lately I’ve done that. You can call it what you want. I’m just happy to be contributing.”

He scored Thursday from near the slot on the power play and did it again on Sunday, but it was his first goal in the victory that turned heads. Just inside the Oilers’ blue-line, Montador received a pass from Patrick Kane.

First came the move around a defenseman and then came one on the hottest goaltender in the league.

“I just tried to hold onto the puck there like I did and get it around Khabibulin and I was able to do that,” Montador said matter-of-factly.

If Montador won’t take credit for how impressive it was his teammates and coach will tell it.

“Not bad at all,” Jonathan Toews said. “He said even meant to sauce the puck over the guys stick and dangle in there like that, so pretty impressive.”
“The first goal he made was pretty remarkable for a defenseman,” Joel Quenneville added. “He’s been a nice addition to our club.”

That rush may never happen again, but his play in the slot looks like a keeper. He simply knows where to go and how to put the puck on net from point shots.

“He’s not afraid,” Toews said. “He does a great job of boxing guys out on the penalty kill in front of our net. He’s a workhorse. He’s good at getting himself open when he’s on offense.”

So playing defense in the slot helps playing offense there? Who knew?

“I stand around in the d-zone there so I should be kind of familiar,” Montador said again casually.

Whatever the reason it’s pumped life into a formerly-dead power play. They have four goals in the past three games with the man-advantage. Montador has scored two of them.

Even so, the stick-handling move from blue-line to goal-line will get the bulk of the water cooler talk on Monday. Montador was told he looked like Patrick Kane on the goal.

"I don’t know if I could look like that guy,” he quipped. “I don’t look like Justin Bieber.”

Slappers

• Oilers coach Tom Renney wasn’t pleased with his team’s execution, especially in the third period.

“What’s interesting is that they won the hockey game 6-3, and we’re the team that has to put the push on in the third period, and they out-chance us in the third period 15-3. I didn’t see us getting into their end with any authority at all, any type of sustained attack. We put no fear into them whatsoever, and they out-chanced us 15-3 in the third period by playing sound defense. Lesson learned, I hope. We’ve got a couple rungs to go, and it starts in your own head, and the minute you man up and buy in and understand the pain and how much it hurts to be a winner, you’ve got a shot. Right now, not good enough.”

• Since being paired with Marian Hossa three games ago, Jonathan Toews has four goals and two assists including two tallies on Sunday. Toews had seven shots and won 71 percent of his faceoffs.

• Marian Hossa was plus-2 and is plus-13 for the season. That ranks second in the league.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26