Five Things: Energy shortage dooms Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes


Five Things: Energy shortage dooms Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes

It wasn’t that long ago that the Blackhawks broke out of their scoring doldrums, finally getting production from more than just their second line.

Well, the offense has disappeared again, and it almost led to their second consecutive shutout loss on Sunday night. Brent Seabrook kept that from happening, scoring with three seconds remaining in regulation. But it was an otherwise quiet game for the Blackhawks in their 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

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Now the Blackhawks hit the road for their final two games of 2015. So before it’s wheels up, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Carolina.

1. The outside game was evident. And playing the outside game rarely wins anything. The Blackhawks certainly know that. Look back at their Dec. 20 victory against the San Jose Sharks: every goal the Blackhawks scored, including Jonathan Toews’ overtime winner, was within about five feet of the goal. Credit the Hurricanes for doing a good job of keeping the Blackhawks to the outside. But those are battles the Blackhawks have to be better at winning, especially because they weren’t the group playing for the second game in as many nights.

2. Energy lapse. The Blackhawks hadn’t played since Tuesday. Fatigue, which looked to be an issue by the third period of that game against Dallas, was not the issue on Sunday night. The Blackhawks had a relatively lethargic start to this one. If they come out with energy, perhaps they put the Hurricanes on their heels early. But that didn’t happen.

3. Fourth line playing well again. The Blackhawks had six shots on goal early against the Hurricanes. Fourth liners Andrew Desjardins, Phillip Danault and Ryan Garbutt combined for five of them (one for Desjardins, two each for the other two). That’s great for the fourth line, but that also showed how little the other lines were doing until later in the game. If only one of those guys could’ve scored an early one.

[MORE: Blackhawks offense quiet in loss to Hurricanes]

4. Power play goes quiet again. The Blackhawks had the advantage just once on Sunday but it was a forgettable effort. They barely spent any time in the Hurricanes’ zone. They didn’t get a shot on goal. Again, it’s just one opportunity. But even if the Blackhawks didn’t score on it, generating some zone time and shots may have led to some momentum moving forward.

5. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom welcomed back at the UC. The two, who were honored on the video board during Sunday’s game, have gotten bigger opportunities with the Hurricanes, who acquired them from the Blackhawks in September. That’s been especially true of Nordstrom, who’s now a second liner with Carolina. These trades have become a regular part of the Blackhawks’ post-Cup summers. Here’s to two more who turned a trade into opportunity elsewhere.

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.”