Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Stars: Penalty kill not killing

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Stars: Penalty kill not killing

DALLAS – Here’s one thing you can say about the Blackhawks-Dallas Stars matchups this season: whoever has won each game, it’s done it in convincing fashion.

Friday night’s outing followed that formula, as the Stars came out blazing and upended the Blackhawks 5-2. Some of the Blackhawks’ problems looked familiar. Their offense looked absent.

So before we head back home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Stars.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

1. The penalty kill struggles again. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Blackhawks’ kill, and it didn’t look too good on Friday, either. The Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals – to Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn – in this one. The penalty kill cost the Blackhawks a point in St. Louis. It helped cost them two in Dallas. So is this now a concern? “I wouldn’t say concern,” Marian Hossa said, “but we definitely have to be on the same page.”

2. Hossa returns. The Blackhawks right wing said he wasn’t coming back from his lower body injury until he was 100 percent. He looked like he felt good on Friday night. Hossa was back to his strong self on the puck, drawing a penalty and getting a team-high six shots on goal. Hossa took his return for what it was. “I felt good but obviously the result isn’t there, so can’t be happy about it,” he said.

3. Stars overcome injuries. Patrick Sharp is hurt. So is Jason Demers, Jordie Benn and John Klingberg. That didn’t seem to matter to the Stars, who played like they were at full speed and with a full roster. And with that, full credit to the Stars for truly not using injuries as an excuse.

[MORE: Blackhawks slip to third place in Central with loss to Stars]

4. The third line clicks. If there was a bright spot for the Blackhawks on Friday it was their third line. Tomas Fleischmann and Teuvo Teravainen each scored, and Dale Weise joined that line – Fleischmann and Weise played together earlier this season in Montreal, and both said the chemistry was there from the start. The Blackhawks didn’t get much overall on Friday but that line was noticeable for the right reasons. “That was one positive tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That line was effective.”

5. Let the Central Division fun begin. Actually it’s been crazy for a while and it’s really going to be entertaining down the stretch. There are a whole two points separating the Dallas Stars (in first) and the Blackhawks (in third). Two points, that’s all. Buckle up, folks.

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.”