Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks get some secondary scoring

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Five Things: Blackhawks get some secondary scoring

On a roll. You could say that about a few Blackhawks right now. You could kind of say that about the Blackhawks, too, right now.

That mess in Nashville aside, the Blackhawks have looked good lately. With their 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, the Blackhawks have won four of their last five games and ended the night second in the Central Division. There’s a long way to go, but the Blackhawks look like they’re getting into a rhythm.

So before we take off for the evening, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Canucks.

1. Corey Crawford is complacent no more. Crawford used that word to describe several of his recent games. Well, he’s apparently gotten over it. Crawford was sharp once again, recording his second shutout in as many starts. By our calculations, Crawford’s current shutout streak is 140 minutes, 46 seconds — the last goal he gave up was Nashville forward Eric Nystrom’s at 19:14 of the second period on Tuesday night. Crawford is tracking the puck well right now, and most of them have remained in front of him.

2. Patrick Kane keeps it going. It wasn’t your usual assist, but it was nevertheless a legitimate one — possession never changed — and Kane now has a 26-game point streak because of it. Getting these points early in games has helped the Blackhawks maintain focus where it needs to be: on getting the best team result. Kane’s focus has also been team first. He’s just scoring a hell of a lot of points in the process.

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3. Dennis Rasmussen finding his niche. The center has only been here for four games, but he’s making a great impact. Rasmussen scored his second goal in his brief stint here, a goal that he wishes he had held back on so Bryan Bickell could’ve gotten credit for it. Rasmussen blamed his instincts, but he shouldn’t have. He was aggressive and making sure a goal counted. Coach Joel Quenneville liked that line of Rasmussen, Bickell and Andrew Shaw on Sunday, another sign the Blackhawks’ lines might be coming together better.

4. Others are scoring. This is a bit of a continuation of the Rasmussen mention. It was him, Shaw and, for the first time in his NHL career, Brandon Mashinter contributing goals in the third period. The Blackhawks haven’t had enough of that this season, especially from the bottom six. As Crawford said, “We’ve had our other lines play well, but it’s nice to see those guys chip in with some goals.”

5. Sizzling at home. The Blackhawks still have some things to figure out on the road, and they’ll get a chance to do that later on this month. But right now they’re taking advantage of these December home games. The Blackhawks improved to 12-3-1 at the United Center this season. They’re currently second in the Central Division, and their home record has a lot to do with that.

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.”