Blackhawks

Blackhawks Mailbag: How long could Kane's point streak go?

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Blackhawks Mailbag: How long could Kane's point streak go?

Patrick Kane’s point streak has been something to watch these last few weeks, and the Blackhawks forward ran his streak to a career-best 19 games, also a new record for a U.S.-born player, in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Kane and his current scoring surge is also a big topic in our inaugural Blackhawks mailbag. As a disclaimer, I don’t know why it took me so long to start one of these. But this one came about thanks to a 3 1/2-hour flight. You never know where inspiration strikes.

I say he gets to 22, eclipsing Bobby Hull’s franchise mark.

It’s early but Kane is certainly getting off to a good start in possibly claiming that at the end of this season. He was on his way to being a candidate for it last season if not for suffering a fractured clavicle in late February. We’ll see how that all shakes out.

Well, he isn’t retiring now so we don’t have to worry about it. Kane’s got a lot of years left, but there’s no doubt, at the rate he’s going, he’ll be a shoo-in.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Now, onto other questions, starting with another one that’s a big topic of interest:

I’ll be honest, I would’ve bet my paycheck he was going to come back during the Circus Trip. That’s when he was scoring a lot of points for the Rockford IceHogs. But coach Joel Quenneville said bringing back Bickell wasn’t in the plans at the time. General manager Stan Bowman, when asked last week if there was a timeline for Bickell’s return, said, “we don’t preordain that. We’ll just assess as we go. The better he plays down there, the better chance he has to come back and help us.”

I think he’s used the blender fairly well. Earlier this season I thought he should keep some lines together a little longer to see if some chemistry could develop, and it looks like he’s done that with some of them, including that current top line (Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Garbutt). This was going to take time, and I think he’s done as good a job as possible. I think we’re all a little surprised at how Toews and Marian Hossa couldn’t find a left wing with whom to click earlier.

Finding four rotating lines. We’re used to seeing the Blackhawks at their best when they’ve got that going. Even finding three that he could rotate regularly would be good.

Hmmm, here’s what I would do right now:

Teravainen-Toews-Hossa (give him another shot)

Panarin-Anisimov-Kane (yeah, I’m cheating here)

Dano-Kero-Garbutt

Shaw-Kruger-Desjardins

[MORE: Blackhawks fairly happy with Circus Trip results]

Of course, like Quenneville, I reserve the right to change my mind before the end of this mailbag.

I’m going to go with Saad. No offense to Sharp, but he had a bad 2014-15 and the Blackhawks miss Saad for a few reasons: he filled that top-line left-wing role, he put up points and he added to the penalty kill.

If Keith is still ailing, he’s fooling the heck out of me. I did think he looked shaky with his puck handling against the Ducks, but yet there he was, scoring the game-tying goal at the end of regulation. He’s gone right back to playing his normal minutes and putting up points, so right now, I think he looks great.

This question was so much easier to answer when Nick Leddy was here. I’d probably put Garbutt atop the list right now. You’ve seen on some of those penalty kills how fast he can be. Kane and Duncan Keith are certainly up there, and same with Panarin.

OK, for this one and anyone else who asked about the possibilities of trading Bickell, I doubt it’ll happen. Maybe in a package, but I still doubt it. The Blackhawks have tried already, and the interest clearly isn’t there.

[ALSO: Five things we learned from Blackhawks-Kings]

As for this particular scenario, I think it’s a bad idea. I would not get rid of Teravainen under any circumstance. Stan Bowman said the same thing a few years ago. Yes, he said the same thing about Brandon Saad at that time, too, but that was before Sadd priced himself out of town.

Again, this is another question that a few of you asked in various ways. I’ll just address Daley in one shot.

I know Daley’s name has been bandied about as a trade possibility. I honestly don’t know if they’d get rid of him. I personally think he’s been playing better since he was paired with Michal Rozsival. I know it’s not a dream tandem but it’s a 5-6 tandem.

I guess there’s always a chance, but it seems others have passed Mr. McNeill on the depth chart.

First, Dano is not in the doghouse. He was scratched a game. And let’s be honest: he hasn’t exactly been doing anything great in recent games. Second, we’re comparing apples to oranges here. There’s no doubt coach Joel Quenneville likes to have a big guy in the lineup, someone who can land a few hits. That would be Bryan Bickell if he were here, but he’s not. Dano is 20, he has plenty to learn and folks need to stop thinking he’s getting denied something. He’s not; he’s just not playing very well. He’ll get better. Again, can’t compare Dano and Mashinter: two different players with two different games.

Guessing a lot of this is bred from the Blackhawks’ loss to Los Angeles on Saturday night. Besides that game and the home game vs. St. Louis a few weeks ago, I think the Blackhawks have held leads fairly well. As always, it’s a team mentality with the defense. Their last two games against the Ducks and Kings, they allowed too many odd-man rushes, too many golden opportunities. They have to be careful with passes,clears, etc.

I’ve always been a Steelers fan, for obvious logistical reasons. I was a Colts fan, too, when they were in Baltimore, because I was born there. They lost me when they moved out in the middle of the night. And, of course, I’m a longtime Cubs fan. They made baseball fun for me to watch again this season.

Chris, if I had that kind of power, I’d be using it for lottery numbers. I really don’t know why someone always seems to score a goal when I head to the elevator. If I were a better planner I’d just head to the elevator when they show Kiss-Cam, so I would guarantee I wouldn’t miss anything.

Thanks for your questions, everyone. My apologies if I didn’t get to them all. See you again for the next one, which I hope to write before another Circus Trip.

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.”