For Blackhawks, patience has to keep paying off


For Blackhawks, patience has to keep paying off

For the Blackhawks, Game 2 was a waiting game.

Since this second-round series began against the Minnesota Wild the Blackhawks have been preaching patience. On Sunday night they truly had to practice it. There was a payoff, certainly, as they claimed a 4-1 victory over the Wild.

Now to continue that patience against a team that, despite Game 2 miscues, doesn’t usually give up much.

“That’s the way it has to be, especially against a team like this,” Patrick Kane said after the team’s Game 2 victory, which gives them a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night. “You’re not going to get many chances. They clog up the middle pretty well and have a good goaltender. You have to stay with it, not get frustrated.”

[RELATED: Stars shine bright as Blackhawks down Wild in Game 2]

The Blackhawks expect the Wild to play a tighter and less errant game on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. When the mistakes were there on Sunday, the Blackhawks took advantage of them. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa broke out on a 2-on-0 short-handed effort, with Toews finishing it off. Kane’s first goal and Patrick Sharp’s score started with Wild lapses.

The Blackhawks certainly like to push the pace, and that’s fine. It’s going for the play that’s not there that has gotten them in trouble. They didn’t wander down that road in Game 2, instead taking what was there. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks have to stay that course, even if it takes longer than they’d like.

“We think we’re playing well in [Game 2] and it took us a long time to score a goal, so that’s got to be the recipe going forward,” Quenneville said. “Don’t think you want to go out there and outscore them. You want to play the right way and when you get your opportunities, cash in. I thought we did that last night.”

Thomas Vanek told the Minnesota media he wasn’t sure why the Wild were so sloppy in Game 2. He said part of it may be the Blackhawks playing a different game than the St. Louis Blues, the Wild’s first-round opponent – “they play such a fast, long pass game where I think we got trapped into it thinking we have to play the same way as them to beat them.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoff run, Blackhawks fans!]

So the Wild know they have to get back to what works for them.

“When we’re on our game, we’re tough to get countered. When we try those long stretch passes, that’s when they pick them off and go the other way and that’s not us,” Vanek continued. “We have to come as a five-man unit through the neutral zone and not have two, three guys leaving the zone and try to play their game. That’s what I think we did yesterday and that didn’t work so well.”

The Blackhawks haven’t always practiced patience as much as they’ve preached it. But it’s worked when they have. They’ll need more of the same if they want to keep the pressure on the Wild.

“There are a lot of options on their lines, a lot of speed in their lineup and a back end that’s active. So there are a lot of ways they can generate, a lot of ways they can defend,” Quenneville said. “You still have to have that patient mindset.”

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.”