Blackhawks tie franchise record with 11th straight win over Canadiens


Blackhawks tie franchise record with 11th straight win over Canadiens

Winning games in bunches: you need a lot to go right to go on a substantial winning streak.

For the Blackhawks right now, just about everything is going right.

Jonathan Toews had two goals and an assist and Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have now won 11 consecutive games to tie the franchise-best streak they set Feb. 17-March 6, 2013.

The Blackhawks now lead the Central Division with 66 points, three ahead of second-place Dallas and seven ahead of third-place St. Louis.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 29 shots for his eighth consecutive victory. That ties his career best, previously set from Feb. 20-March 5, 2011. Richard Panik scored his first goal for the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane scored his 29th of the season. Kane is just one shy of tying his career high in goals, set during the 2009-10 season.

The Blackhawks started this winning streak with two high-scoring victories. They’re now settling into a pattern of scoring plenty – and it’s coming from everyone and not just the second line – but allowing very little defensively. The Blackhawks have given up four goals in their last three games.

“I think the balance is the one thing that sticks out, consistency and getting contributions across the board. We’re solid in net, solid on the blue line and much more predictable up front,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Every night, someone else could score. Richard’s score tonight started it. The power play comes up with the big goal. Every night’s a little different but we’re playing responsible, playing the score, playing the time and we’ve got some momentum.”

The Blackhawks have also scored first in a lot of these games. That was true again on Sunday when Panik gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 2:40 into the game. Erik Gustafsson, who missed the last two games with a right-knee injury, had the great pass to Panik for his eighth assist of theseason. Lars Eller tied it for Montreal but Toews’ two goals in the second period gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.

[MORE: Will Bryan Bickell get a fresh start elsewhere?]

“We’ve improved how we play defensively; everybody’s committed,” Hossa said. “Everyone from the core knows how to win the defensive game from the championships and we have a lot of offense. The second line carried us offensively most of the year but it’s nice that other lines are scoring too, now, and that definitely helps.”

That offense continued in the third period. Montreal’s Max Pacioretty scored a power-play goal to get the Canadiens within one but Kane scored just 71 seconds later to restore the Blackhawks’ two-goal lead. Hossa, who got a stick on Duncan Keith’s long pass with 24 seconds remaining in regulation, got the empty-net goal.

Some of the Blackhawks felt it was just a matter of time before things started clicking with lines and with their game overall. A lot has to go right to go on a lengthy winning streak. Right now, a lot is.

“It’s nice; I mean, it's fun. We need to recognize that when things are clicking, you need to keep pushing and keep building your game and not get too comfortable, and I think we're doing a good job of that right now,” Toews said. “You look back to the last half dozen games, there hasn't been a whole lot of signs of satisfaction with our effort. So we're having fun and we're riding it out right now. I don't think we're playing out of our minds and getting too overconfident. We're just working hard and things are going our way.”




Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp


Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

When development camp rolled around in mid-July, all eyes were on No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist, who had immediately become Chicago's top prospect.

That hasn't been the case in training camp.

We're one week in and the storylines have been dominated by Corey Crawford's status, Connor Murphy's back injury that could now sideline him up to 12 weeks and what it means for the defense, Henri Jokiharju's chances at making the big club and the new forward lines, most notably Brandon Saad being put with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.

Why? Because all the attention in September is how the Blackhawks are going to bounce back after missing the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. And also, because Boqvist may still be 2-3 years away from playing in the NHL on a full-time basis.

Still, the Blackhawks very much are monitoring his progression this week and view him as a big part of the future. They got their first glimpse of Boqvist in game action in Tuesday's preseason opener vs. Columbus, which admittedly wasn't his best game —  he was on the ice for six shot attempts for and 16 against at even strength, the worst differential on the team — but the most important part of it was simply getting a feel for the pace and the size of the players he's going up against.

"I was a little nervous when I saw Seth Jones, those types of players, I've looked up to them, so that was a little bit [nerve-wracking]," Boqvist said. "But you're there for one thing, so go out and play your best game.

"I think I did pretty well out there. The game was not the best one, but a preseason game is a preseason game, so I hope I can [make] some steps."

Asked how important it was to actually get thrown into a game rather than a team practice or scrimmage, Boqvist didn't undermine it even though it was only a preseason game.

"It's huge," he said. "It's not like back home in Sweden at the juniors. It was a huge difference. How you can defend on smaller ice and when you should go or not go. I've learned a lot from the older guys here and hope they can help me this season."

From development camp to team practices and scrimmages to preseason games, coach Joel Quenneville is impressed with what he sees early on and had some high praise for the 18-year-old defenseman.

"Good, good," he said. "We liked him. We think that he can make some real special plays. Real good patience and play recognition. High end. Terrific shot. Deceptive as well.

"Watching him in the summer as well, he's got a great level of skill, play recognition, patience with possession of the puck. He's going to learn quickly that you got bigger guys, guys that know how to play and hold onto the puck and how to defend those situations in tight areas and with possession against you, so that's one of the learning curves that he's going through. But overall, he's what you call smooth as [Duncan Keith] says or [Patrick Kane] says."

Boqvist will be playing in Thursday's preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, and will likely play a larger role in it with the top guys on the blue line staying home. It could also be his last one, with the OHL's London Knights season beginning Friday.

The Blackhawks want to make sure Boqvist is maximizing his experience here while he is around the Duncan Keith's and Brent Seabrook's, before taking everything he learned with him to London ahead of a crucial year of development.

"It's so cool to be around these NHL players," Boqvist said. "I try to enjoy so much here and take all the stuff I can from the guys here, so hope they can help me."

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

After eliminating the Calgary Flames in six games and securing their first playoff series win since 1995-96, the Blackhawks were on to the Western Conference semi-finals, where they would meet the Vancouver Canucks. And what a memorable series this would shape out to be, the start of a terrific rivalry that would develop over the next several years.

The Blackhawks didn't have home-ice advantage this time, but it turns out they didn't need it.

After falling into a 2-1 hole, the Blackhawks evened up the series in Game 4 at the United Center when Andrew Ladd re-directed a Dave Bolland shot in overtime to put the pressure back on the Canucks heading back to Vancouver. It was a pivotal moment in the series, but the turning point may have started late in Game 3.

Although he didn't score until Game 5, Dustin Byfuglien was an absolute wrecking ball and unquestionably got into Roberto Luongo's head with his net-front presence and physicality. 

The Blackhawks locked up Game 5 in Vancouver and returned to Chicago, where they would beat the Canucks 7-5 in Game 6 thanks to a hat-trick by 20-year-old Patrick Kane. It was that night when Kane was coined with the nickname: "Hat-trick Kane."

And of course, who could forget Luongo's postgame press conference when he was moved to tears after accepting blame for the series loss?

Relive the series in the video above.