Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

Corey Crawford stellar again as Blackhawks smother Avalanche

After Corey Crawford allowed just one goal against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, he said he’s felt better every game.

He apparently felt fantastic on Thursday night.

Crawford recorded his second shutout in his past three games, stopping all 38 shots he saw, and Marian Hossa scored twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks won their fourth consecutive game and have points in their last six (5-0-1). Jonathan Toews scored his second goal of the season, which proved to be the game winner.

Artem Anisimov had the secondary assist on Hossa’s goal, extending his career-best, nine-game point streak. Duncan Keith had two assists. Artemi Panarin scored his fifth of the season with 7:20 remaining in regulation.

It was another stellar night for Crawford, who has now stopped 103 of the 104 shots he’s seen in his past three games. He was once again tested early and often, but held up under the pressure as the Blackhawks were outshot 11-1 in the first 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.

“He’s been outstanding,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Again tonight, the first period comparable to the last few first periods we’ve seen, where he’s kept us in the game and we’ve had opportunistic scoring and put ourselves in a good spot. but single-handedly there, he made some big, big saves.”

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It has become a trend for the Blackhawks: struggle and get outshot badly early, then come back with a flourish. Tonight it was two goals in 38 seconds, first by Toews (a rebound off Keith’s shot) and Hossa’s first of the night. And just like that, the Blackhawks were in control.

Crawford again came up big late in the second period, when the Avalanche again pushed the pace and brought a flurry of shots.

“I was just trying to track the puck,” Crawford said. “Our [defensemen] are doing a good job of being on the side of the net, clearing stuff and taking away options on the side there. I just have to try to find the puck from the blue line and our guys are doing a great job with that on the rebounds.”

Hossa scored his second of the night, splitting two Avalanche defensemen off a great pass from Keith, for a 3-0 lead 55 seconds into the third period. Hossa, who certainly benefited from a rare long offseason, has five goals through his first 10 games.

“You know, sometimes when the puck goes in for you early you’re more relaxed. You don’t force things. Right now I think that’s what’s happening,” Hossa said. “I’m playing with two great players (Anisimov and Panarin). Find the open area and those guys can find you. Things are clicking.”

The Blackhawks are sort of clicking, too. Those starts are still an issue; the Blackhawks are not going to be able to win every game they’re slow out of the game. But right now they’re getting what they need from their top six forwards, and getting a ton from their goaltender.

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.”