Blackhawks

Blackhawks checking line finds chemistry again

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Blackhawks checking line finds chemistry again

COLUMBUS, Ohio Its clear what the Blackhawks are looking for in their checking line: stop opponents from scoring first, and get any offense you can on your end.

The Blackhawks latest checking-line group has the potential to work both sides very well.

Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland and Viktor Stalberg have formed some chemistry again and it was evident in the Blackhawks 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The trio, which was together earlier this season, has looked comfortable again. And coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw on Thursday.

With Stals speed and Bicks size, its little things that help us out there, Bolland said. Its always helpful having two big guys on your line that have some speed.

They had long cycles in the offensive zone, a lot of puck possession time, Quenneville said. Were not happy about the one goal (they gave up to Carl Hagelin) but they did a lot of good things. They were controlling the play a lot and had the puck a lot. Thats where were looking to be at.

Indeed, the three were playing their best defense on Thursday with the offensive chances they created on the other end. Both Stalberg and Bolland had prime opportunities, something they havent had in a while.

Its a team game, and when we have chances wed like to bury them. But its nice to start getting them again. It seemed like they dried up lately, Stalberg said. We have to take advantage of them and get more comfortable in those areas. If we can keep the puck in their end and cycle, thats going to be better for us.

Bolland said, with Stals speed and Bicks size, its the little things that help us out there. Its always helpful having two big guys on your line that have some speed.

Of the three, Stalbergs adjusting to the checking-line role the most. His first indoctrination came with these two earlier this season and hes embracing the challenge.

Its something I want to learn and want to get better at. Last night was a step in the right direction, said Stalberg.

Yes, we all know Quennevilles propensity for switching line combinations. We also know that when a line shows some chemistry, it gets a chance. This trio should get a decent one.

We compliment each other, all three of us. It seems like were making pretty good plays, playing simple, Stalberg said. If we take care of our end well get our chances. Last night we did. Wed like to bury them but thats going to happen at some point.

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.”