Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

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Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews nets game-winning OT goal vs. Sharks

The Blackhawks preach it constantly. Every team does, really: in this league, you need to get those gritty, up-close-and-personal goals. Drive to the net, get pucks and get opportunities.

And instead of talking about that mantra on Sunday night, the Blackhawks practiced it.

Patrick Kane scored his 21st goal of the season and Jonathan Toews recorded the overtime winner as the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now won seven of their last nine and remain in third place in the Central Division entering Tuesday night’s game against the first-place Dallas Stars.

One player who won’t be headed to Dallas is Marian Hossa. The right wing missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury and coach Joel Quenneville said Hossa will hopefully be back for the Blackhawks’ Dec. 27 game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Quenneville said that Hossa’s injury “isn’t serious at all.” Given the upcoming break, it’s just more a good chance to let Hossa rest.

Corey Crawford, who Quenneville picked to start both games this weekend, stopped 33 of 36 for the victory.

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Artem Anisimov scored his 12th of the season, which snapped an eight-game point-less streak for the center. Andrew Shaw added his sixth of the season. What do those two goals, as well as Kane’s and Toews’ have in common? They all came from about five feet within the Sharks’ net.

“There are some chances at both ends,” Quenneville said. “They go to the net hard and traffic at our net, but we need to be more assertive when we go to the net, knowing that’s where the rewards are.”

And for Toews, overtime continues to be aboon. Sunday marked Toews’ third overtime winner of the season.

“You have to be smart, pick your spots and take advantage of the opportunities you get,” Toews said. “Tonight was one of those scenarios where we were able to catch them tired and maybe changing and I think we did a pretty good job of managing that and making sure we have fresh guys on the ice maintaining puck possession even though we might not be attacking with it.”

Crawford did the rest, making some of his biggest stops in the third period when the Sharks outshot the Blackhawks 11-5. Crawford said starting back-to-backs was fine with him – “It’s almost like you don’t lose it at all, playing again that quick,” he said.

“Obviously it was a tough way to start on the first shot, I got deked out of my jock,” Crawford said of Joonas Donskoi’s early goal. “But I stuck with it. I was seeing pucks pretty well. That team has been pretty streaky this year but when they’re playing hard, they’re a tough team to beat. That was a really good hockey game tonight.”

The Blackhawks have been playing pretty good hockey lately. They’re getting great goaltending from Crawford. They’re getting more scoring from everyone. And on Sunday they got the kinds of goals they’ll need the rest of the way.

“I mean, it shows when you get in those dirty areas you find those goals,” Shaw said. “They’re tough to come by. You have to work hard and get dirty once in a while.”

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.”