Both on and off power play, Blackhawks keep road success going


Both on and off power play, Blackhawks keep road success going

By Jessica Patton

TORONTO — The Maple Leafs were the latest victims of the Blackhawks' red-hot road power play, as the Blackhawks' man advantage netted two more goals in Friday's 4-1 victory in Toronto.

Coming into the game, the Blackhawks led the NHL with a 27.1-percent power play on the road and have scored at least one goal in 24 games when the other team is in the box.

"I think that's one of their skills: the power play,” said Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, whose team gave up six power-play opportunities. “I think they're really good at it. They use each other well, they really make the ice big and create opportunities.

“Their D got pucks to the net and created scoring chances, and that's one of their strengths."

After starting the season 1-4 on the road, the Blackhawks have found their game and are now 11-8-3 away from the United Center. The win against the Maple Leafs is not only their 10th victory in a row but their fifth road win.

“I think we got that four-line rotation,” Patrick Kane said after the game when asked about the Blackhawks' recent success. “That’s probably been one of the best things about the streak we’re on right now, everyone’s contributing, it’s a new player’s turn every night.

“It’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to be a part of. All four lines are chipping in, and everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.”

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For coach Joe Quenneville, who became the NHL's second all-time winningest coach following the Blackhawks' victory Thursday in Montreal, it was just a matter of the team clicking and finding the chemistry throughout the lineup rather than just in select players.

“Our guys are playing well, I think the consistency in our lineup’s been more noticeable here,” Quenneville said Friday. “We’ve been getting contributions across the four lines, and I think early on it was basically a one-line team and now everyone is contributing.

“Our defense has been balanced, our goaltending has been rock solid, so we like the consistency right now.”

With the win, the Blackhawks took sole ownership of the top spot in the Western Conference with 64 points, two points better than the Dallas Stars. They return home to face the Canadiens on Sunday before heading back out on the road Tuesday against the Predators.

But for the defending Stanley Cup champions, it doesn’t matter where they’re playing, the plan remains the same.

“We’re not changing how we play,” Quenneville explained. “I think there is more consistency now both home and away, and we’re playing the right way and everyone’s bringing it so we like the balance.”

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.”