Blackhawks

Blackhawks blast Avalanche for seventh straight win

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Blackhawks blast Avalanche for seventh straight win

The Blackhawks have long had a tough time against Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov, a combination of his play and the lack of net-front presence hurting the Blackhawks.

But on Sunday the Blackhawks beat him often and the Avs soundly.

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa each scored twice as the Blackhawks beat the Avalanche 6-3 at the United Center. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Blackhawks, who remain in second in the Central Division with 58 points. They’re now just four points behind first-place Dallas, which is idle until Friday. Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists. Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 37 shots in the victory.

Outside of their New Year’s Eve overtime victory against the Avs, the Blackhawks have struggled against Varlamov more often than not. On Sunday they had better quality of shots and, more important, bodies at the net. Brandon Mashinter, planted in front of the net, scored his second goal of the season. Kane’s first came when Artem Anisimov was screening Varlamov and Hossa’s first came when he was deep in the slot.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I don’t remember pucks going in against him ever. It’s the first time we were able to get some goals on him,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Nice night on the offensive side of things and we got the nice lead. That team, though, is still dangerous because they’ll press with six.”

Indeed, the Avalanche made it interesting early in the second. Matt Duchene, who always plays well against the Blackhawks, scored twice to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-2. He would later add an assist. Then Kane’s second of the night, a power-play goal, gave the Blackhawks a 4-2 edge, and that was it for Varlamov.

“Yeah, you try not to think about it. Just go out and play the game, do the right things, no matter who’s in net,” Kane said. “But you could see a lot of our goals were right around the net, through traffic, screens, different things like that.”

[MORE: Teravainen finds confidence, shot with third line]

Toews greeted Pickard with his 16th goal of the season for a 5-2 lead. Then Hossa scored his second of the night to make it 6-2. For Hossa, whose two goals were his first since Dec. 6 against Winnipeg, scoring on Sunday was a relief as much as it was a joy.

“Definitely. You could tell it’s been such a long time and definitely it felt good,” Hossa said. “I tried to work to get opportunities and the puck doesn’t go in, I try to stay positive. I’m glad tonight it went in.”

The Blackhawks had been putting up good offensive numbers lately but doing that against Varlamov has been tricky the past few seasons. On Sunday, they finally got the necessary quality and traffic to best him.

“He’s definitely had our number over these years,” Hossa said. “We’re glad we broke that streak and got a couple of wins and a few goals.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”