Blackhawks offense wakes up in win over Blue Jackets


Blackhawks offense wakes up in win over Blue Jackets

Corey Crawford summed it up as well as anyone.

“It was kind of a flat game, I thought, for most of it there. There wasn’t much going on,” Crawford said. “But we made some plays when we needed to.”

No, the Blackhawks-Columbus Blue Jackets game wasn’t the most scintillating contest. But with a four-day break looming the Blackhawks, who had been rather goal deprived in their previous two contests, got that side of their game going.

Artem Anisimov scored his second goal of the season and Marian Hossa got his first as the Blackhawks beat the Blue Jackets 4-1 on Saturday night. On a night when Brandon Saad returned to Chicago with his new team, the Blackhawks sent the Blue Jackets home with another loss. Columbus is now 0-6-0 this season.

[MORE: Brandon Saad returns to Chicago with 'a lot of emotions']

Teuvo Teravainen scored a power-play goal and Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal. Crawford stopped 22 of 23 shots for the victory. The Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak and, after scoring just one goal in their previous two games, found some offense again.

“Well, the last two games we only scored one goal and for this team it’s not good enough,” Hossa said. “We know we have so much firepower here I think we have to learn how to play better defensively and that’s what creates offense.”

That’s pretty much how Hossa got his goal. With time running out on a two-minute 5-on-3 and the Blackhawks doing little on it, Hossa stole the puck from Columbus forward Matt Calvert and scored for a 3-0 lead at the time.

“Guys who are known as scorers enjoy scoring, like everybody should,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa’s first of the season. “It was nice to see the finish. He made a great play in the neutral zone. It was a sloppy 5-on-3 and all of a sudden he finishes it off with strength on the puck in the neutral zone, beats two guys and scores a huge goal for us at that time.”

The Blackhawks entered the second period having scored just one goal the previous periods — Viktor Svedberg’s third-period goal in Washington on Thursday. Anisimov broke through late in the second, backhanding an Artemi Panarin pass past Curtis McElhinney for a 1-0 lead. Just 65 seconds later, Teravainen scored when his power-play shot went off Dalton Prout’s skate. The Blackhawks also held the Blue Jackets in check in the second period; Columbus had just three shots in that frame. Crawford didn’t have much to do in that time.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“It felt boring in the second a little bit,” Crawford said. “Those ones are… you have to find a way mentally to try and stay in it.”

Kane scored an empty netter with 1:27 remaining in regulation.

The Blackhawks still have some things to work out with all their changes. But they were stronger on defense and got some much-needed goals. It’s a start.

“Tonight I thought we were much better. It still wasn’t great but we were much better and that’s important,” Hossa said. “[With] lots of new pieces coming together, it’s going to take 10-15 games to get exactly where we want it. So a huge game after two losses.”

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.”