Five Things: All special teams, all the time for Blackhawks vs. Rangers


Five Things: All special teams, all the time for Blackhawks vs. Rangers

NEW YORK — The Blackhawks are somewhat like our country: They’re (sort of) young, (kind of) scrappy and hungry, and they’re once again atop the Central Division.

Yes, if you’ve followed the last few weeks you’ve realized the passion for "Hamilton," that musical that has filled seats at Richard Rodgers Theatre here consistently and my Twitter timeline from time to time.

Hey, we’re always looking for a fresh approach to this column. So since we were fortunate enough to finally see the hottest show in New York, we’re coming at you with a Hamilton-inspired Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers.

1. The story of tonight. It seemed to be all special teams, all the time, whether you want to view it as potent power plays or inefficient penalty kills. After scoring four power-play goals against Toronto, the Blackhawks had three more against the Rangers, including the game winner. They also gave up two, as the Rangers tagged them twice during Vinnie Hinostroza’s double-minor high-sticking penalty. But they got one more than they relinquished, so they’ll call this a win.

2. Non-stop. Remember when Artemi Panarin was struggling to score? Yeah, we really don’t either. The Russian forward was stellar on Wednesday night, claiming his first career NHL hat trick. That included the winning goal as well as the one that established the two-goal cushion at the end. Panarin missed two games due to illness recently, but he’s gotten points in six of the last eight games he’s played.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

3. Satisfied. Coach Joel Quenneville was anything but that last week, when another coach’s challenge denied the Blackhawks another goal. But Quenneville challenged the Rangers’ apparent first goal on Wednesday night, claiming Chris Kreider interfered with goaltender Corey Crawford. Officials agreed, nullifying the goal and allowing the Blackhawks to maintain their 1-0 lead at the time.

4. Wait for it. The Blackhawks practiced some patience on their second power play, with Panarin, Erik Gustafsson and Michal Rozsival going through the passing motions for some time. Just when it seemed the passing was becoming a bit too much, Panarin laced one past Henrik Lundqvist. The lull worked.

5. What comes next? The Blackhawks will get their day at the White House for the third time since 2011. As Patrick Kane said, “being able to meet the President again and be a part of that whole ceremony, it’s an exciting day for all of us. I’m sure that the guys who are on the team now that have been part of it before will enjoy it, and the guys who weren’t here will try to do it again this year and be back again.”

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.”