Blackhawks

Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win

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Blackhawks set franchise record with 12th straight win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The mood in the Blackhawks’ locker room didn’t seem any more euphoric than it’s been in any of their previous victories.

Still, there’s no doubt this team realizes it’s doing something pretty special right now – like franchise-record special.

Corey Crawford stopped 38 of 39 shots and the Blackhawks won their 12th consecutive victory when they beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Tuesday night. It was a record night for some individuals as well as the team. Crawford won his career-best ninth consecutive start and Patrick Kane scored his 30th goal, tying a career high – in game No. 49 – he set during the 2009-10 season.

The Blackhawks’ winning streak is a franchise best, eclipsing their previous mark of 11 first set during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. It’s been a heck of a ride, one that has the Blackhawks sitting atop the Central Division with 68 points.

“It’s a great run,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve been starting quick and today we had to weather a good start by them. I thought we were patient with our team game, scoring first and had a couple nice plays on our goals. We defend well in the third, had the lead a lot in this stretch here, which really helped our team game.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Richard Panik scored his second goal in as many games. Artemi Panarin had two assists. Andrew Desjardins added an empty-net goal.

Crawford was stellar once again on Tuesday. The Blackhawks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Predators pushed and fired 16 shots, all of which Crawford stopped.

“Yeah he’s been amazing. It seems like he has a whole new focus in the net,” Kane said of Crawford this season. “Some nights he looks unbeatable; it’s pretty fun to watch. He’s very underrated as goalies go but we feel we have the best-kept secret with him.”

Not so secret is what the Blackhawks’ second line has done all season and continued to do on Tuesday. Artem Anisimov gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with 21.2 seconds remaining in the first period. And just one minute after the Predators’ Ryan Ellis cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 in the second, Kane took a Panarin pass for a backhand breakaway and a 3-1 edge.

“I think maybe he saw me before he got the puck there, I was just taking off after the defenseman shot it and he put it right on my stick,” Kane said. “I had to make the move on the breakaway and it was a nice pass by him.”

The second line has been clicking since the start of this season. The Blackhawks as a whole have been doing so since the end of December. It’s led to some special marks, for individual players and the team.

“You can see the chemistry through all the lines, all the [defensive] pairings. We’re just playing the game right, playing with speed and skill and not making too many mistakes, not taking too many penalties,” Crawford said. “I just think everything about our game is working right now.”

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.”