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CHICAGO - Forget Patrick Kanes flashy moves and Jonathan Toews steady play. Same for
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CHICAGO - Forget Patrick Kanes flashy moves and Jonathan Toews steady play. Same for the rest of the talented forwards on the Chicago Blackhawks. Instead, check out the players who line up right behind the teams biggest stars. Chicagos athletic defencemen play a prominent role in the NHLs most potent offence. Duncan Keith leads all NHL defencemen with 30 assists. Niklas Hjalmarsson is on pace for career highs in goals and assists. Brent Seabrook has three goals and 23 assists after he had 20 points in 47 games last season. Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya also have provided valuable support on offence. Its hard enough for teams to deal with the likes of Kane and Toews. Now, when Keith & Co. are coming up and taking aim, the Blackhawks turn into a goaltenders nightmare. "I love our defence. Theyve been huge for us the past two seasons," forward Patrick Sharp said. "They all skate well. They all move the puck and with the forwards that we have in our locker room, we like to get it with speed and they do a good job of getting it to us. Our defence (has) been the key to our team this year." The importance of Chicagos offensive defencemen was on full display Monday night, when the Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 for their sixth win in the last eight games. Leddy helped set up Kanes tiebreaking goal in the second period, and then capped the scoring with his fifth of the season in the third. Seabrook added two assists. It was the Blackhawks 15th game with at least five goals, running their league-best total to 145. They also lead the NHL with an average of 2.87 points a game by their defencemen, according to STATS, a significant increase from their 2.08 average for last seasons Stanley Cup-winning team. St. Louis, which hosts Chicago on Saturday night, is next on the list with 2.64 points a game for its defencemen and 128 goals overall. "I think as a defence corps you know that its important that we help control the offensive goal, not just necessarily scoring points but just being in on the attack and being an extra option that might create some space for our forwards," said Keith, who also had an assist against the Devils. Keith is one of the top contenders for the Norris Trophy after he took home the award for the NHLs top defenceman in 2010. The 30-year-old Keith, who was selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2002 draft, has led the team in ice time every season since he made his debut in 2005. He plays alongside Seabrook in Chicagos top defensive pairing. "The two of them have been together basically since they broke into the league," said coach Joel Quenneville, a former NHL defenceman. "Thats been a big part of our team. When you think about all the shifts theyve played together, theres a lot of familiarity with one another and I think they complement each other for the right reasons." That familiarity is a common theme when it comes to the Blackhawks defencemen. Seabrook, a first-round draft pick by Chicago in 2003, had two of the Blackhawks biggest goals in their run to the title last season. He scored in overtime in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit after Chicago battled back from a 3-1 series deficit, and then had another overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals at Boston. Hjalmarsson also was drafted by the Blackhawks and is in his seventh season with the team. The 22-year-old Leddy, a 2009 first-round selection by Minnesota, was acquired in a trade in 2010 and has played for Chicago for four seasons. Oduya came over in a February 2012 trade with Winnipeg. "Youre with a group or a linemate or a defence partner for a certain amount of time, you develop that chemistry on the ice and even off the ice," Keith said. "You become more familiar with one another and closer. I just think it helps the overall game on the ice knowing what guys tend to do out on the ice and what they want to do." The Blackhawks (26-7-6) also have done a strong job of finding the right players for their system, which emphasizes puck possession. The eight defencemen on Chicagos roster range in height from 6-foot (Leddy and Oduya) to 6-3 (Seabrook and Hjalmarsson) and weight from 190 pounds for Oduya to 221 for Seabrook. The top defencemen are all strong skaters who are comfortable with the puck on their stick and can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. "The style of play fits the player and the player fits style of play," Oduya said. "I think thats important." Oren Burks Packers Jersey . Granada goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez saved Morenos first two headers from corner kicks taken by Sergio Garcia, but the defender beat him on his third try after Garcia found Moreno unmarked at the near post in the 78th minute. JMon Moore Jersey . -- Canadian freestyle skier Roz Groenewoud isnt letting surgery to both of her knees deter her expectations for the Sochi Olympics. http://www.packersrookiestore.com/Packers-Jk-Scott-Jersey/. Scheffler told The Associated Press on Wednesday he made the choice because he had three concussions over the past four years. DeShone Kizer Packers Jersey . -- Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford made it through a third straight practice without any setbacks and expects to play in Oaklands regular-season finale against San Diego. Marquez Valdes-Scantling Packers Jersey . And it showed Thursday night. The Canadiens, playing in their second game in as many days, however, got a good performance in the end from their backup goaltender as he filled in for an injured Olympic gold medallist .SUNRISE, Fla. -- Michael Yormark resigned as president and CEO of the Florida Panthers on Monday, taking a job with rap mogul Jay Zs Roc Nation and setting off a front-office shake-up for the long-struggling franchise. Yormark said he has accepted a job as president and chief of branding and strategy for Roc Nation, Jay Zs sports agency. The Panthers promoted Rory Babich into the jobs that Yormark had held with the organization, and announced that general manager Dale Tallon was having his responsibilities expanded to also include business operations. "While we are sorry to see Michael leave, he has received an offer for a tremendous opportunity and we are fortunate that we will be able to continue working with him in his new role," said Panthers owner Vincent Viola, who bought the team in September. "Rory has been working with us throughout our acquisition of the team and has been partnering with Michael on the business side and Dale on the hockey side since he joined us." Babich and Tallon also will be alternate governors for the team. "Dale and I, together, will be partnering on all aspects of our business," Babich said. Yormark joined Sunrise Sports and Entertainment as its Chief Operating Officer in September 2003, was promoted to president in August 2007 and then to president and CEO of the team and SSE lastt September.dddddddddddd Yormark said he still believes the Panthers, under Violas leadership, will get to the level the franchise has sought to reach for years. The Panthers have reached the playoffs only once since 2000, and are well out of post-season contention this year. "Roc Nation represents a wonderful new adventure for my family and me, and I am thrilled to join an exciting, innovative organization," Yormark said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "Roc Nation is poised to grow in to one of the most influential companies in the industry and I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge." Babich grew up in the New York area, the son of a sports writer, and said hes loved hockey since childhood. He joined the Panthers after Viola bought the team, and said his role as CEO will simply continue Violas vision to build a winner in South Florida. "Its an exciting time for us," Tallon said. "Rory and I have been together since December. Weve developed a close relationship in a short period of time. ... Were excited about what were going to do, how were going to do this and were going to work together to bring a Stanley Cup to the Panthers and their fans." Roc Nation was founded in 2008, and represents major sports stars as Robinson Cano, Kevin Durant, Victor Cruz and others. 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