Blackhawks offense stopped by Holtby, Capitals in loss


Blackhawks offense stopped by Holtby, Capitals in loss

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t as perturbed with Thursday night’s loss as he was Wednesday’s. At least against the Washington Capitals, the Blackhawks had some choice scoring opportunities.

But it was another loss nonetheless and another one in which the Blackhawks’ offense just could not find many answers.

Viktor Svedberg scored the first goal of his NHL career but the Blackhawks were otherwise quiet in a 4-1 loss to the Capitals at the Verizon Center. It wasn’t as dismal a game as Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, where the Blackhawks looked listless from start to (just about) finish. But it was the same result, nonetheless.

“You don’t like the way things are going,” Quenneville said. “The game’s over before you know it.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It was another night where the Blackhawks looked for some chemistry or jump throughout their lines. The fourth group, the reunited Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw, was the Blackhawks’ best combination with the best scoring opportunities. But be it Braden Holtby, who stopped 26 of 27 shots, iron or near misses, the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize much.

On the other side, the Capitals were energetic from the start. They had eight shots before the Blackhawks got their first, a Svedberg shot that came about 10 minutes into the game. Embarrassed by the San Jose Sharks here on Tuesday night, the Capitals looked like a motivated bunch on Thursday. T.J.Oshie, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Alexander Ovechkin scored for the Capitals.

“I mean, we expected it; they didn’t have a great last game and we knew they were going to come out flying. That’s exactly what they did,” Shaw said. “It took us a period to get into it.”

[MORE: Blackhawks sign Cumiskey to one-year deal]

The Blackhawks were very good in the second period, outshooting the Capitals 17-7. But as Quenneville put it, “we had some great chances, empty net missed, not sharp around the net.”

The feeling-out process with the revamped lineup apparently continues.

“I think it’s a little bit of that, but at the same time we know we can work a little bit harder,” Duncan Keith said. “I think once we win a few more puck battles and races to the puck, that’s going to help us out a lot.”

The Blackhawks have been in these scoring slumps in the past. It’s not fun, but it’s not any reason to panic. Still, they’d like to start finding solutions sooner rather than later.

“We’re not happy with how we played the last few games. Of course, we’re going to try to find ways and that’s usually what we do. That’s just how it is,” Kruger said. “All of us have to be better and take responsibility.”

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


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.”