Five Things: Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division


Five Things: Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division

Five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at the United Center.

1. Blackhawks slip to second in Central Division. A week ago, the Blackhawks appeared to be in comfortable control of the division lead after kicking down the Dallas Stars in their own building. Since then, the Blackhawks have taken just one of six points in three games while the Stars have collected six points in their last three. Both teams sit at 77 points, but Dallas owns the tiebreaker and has three games in hand.

2. Line changes didn't change much. Joel Quenneville tinkered with his bottom-six forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday looking for some extra jump, but he didn't get it. The most notable adjustment was making Erik Gustafsson a healthy scratch in favor of Viktor Svedberg, who was called back up from Rockford on Friday. Perhaps this may have been a move to get Gustafsson re-ignited, but they could've used another possession-type player against a Ducks team that outshot the Blackhawks 44-23.

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3. Penalty kill unit bounces back. Entering Saturday's game, the Blackhawks had allowed three power play goals in their last three penalty kill attempts. Aside from the 4-on-3 overtime goal, the Blackhawks bounced back in a big way, killing off six of seven penalties in the loss. This area will be crucial going forward with one of the team's best penalty killers in Marian Hossa, who's expected to be out for a bit.

4. Marian Hossa 'could miss some time.' After having just played two games without Artemi Panarin due to an illness, the Blackhawks may be without another top player for the foreseeable future. Hossa left Saturday's game with an apparent leg injury, leaving the ice without putting much pressure on his left leg. When asked if it could be a long-term injury, Quenneville said "that's stretching it. Weeks. Not that long. ... We don't think it's serious, but (he) could miss some time."

5. Brent Seabrook sets career-high in goals scored. With two more goals on Saturday night, Seabrook established a new career-high in goals scored (10) after previously scoring nine goals in a season three times (2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12). He's quietly having the best season of his career, and there are still 23 games left in the season.

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.”