Five Things: Panarin-Kane connection strikes again


Five Things: Panarin-Kane connection strikes again

The Blackhawks were hoping that heading home, albeit for one game, would help stoke the energy they were lacking at the end of their latest road trip.

That, coupled with a division matchup against the St. Louis Blues, was apparently just what the Blackhawks needed to end their two-game losing streak. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective, as the Blackhawks bested the Blues 2-0. They’re just one game away from a well-earned break.

[MORE: Crawford earns seventh shutout of season as Blackhawks top Blues]

But they still have that one game left, so the Blackhawks aren’t looking past it. Much like we’re not looking past tonight, as we roll out the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Blues.

1. We may just have to carve out this spot for Corey Crawford all the time. Hey, the guy keeps playing well so we’ll keep lauding him. Crawford wasn’t as busy as he has been in other games recently, at least from start to finish, but he was nevertheless solid again in his NHL-leading seventh shutout of the season. Crawford credited his defense once again but others were more than happy to credit Crawford. “Those saves early-on, they could change the tide of the game,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said. “He always seems to come up with the big saves in the bug moments and every other one in between.”

2. The power play works at home. The Blackhawks’ power play, overall, is better this season (fourth in the NHL). On the road, however, it hasn’t been so stellar. The Blackhawks entered Sunday night’s game with a power play that ranked 17th at home. But there it was in the second period, thanks to Andrew Shaw’s tip of a Marian Hossa shot, providing the necessary cushion in a tight game.

3. The Artemi Panarin-Patrick Kane connection strikes again. It was Kane’s great pass that led to Panarin’s sizzling goal, which proved to be the game-winner. Coach Joel Quenneville gave the most apt description of those two after the game,saying the two had “Sedin-like” anticipation. Indeed, the two wings have been on the same page all season and it’s led to a lot of points. It led to a critical goal on Sunday.

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4. Stopping the bleeding. The Blackhawks have been giving up a lot of shots lately but they stemmed the tide in the second and third periods against the Blues. While the Blues had 12 shots in the first, they had just 13 over the final two periods. The Blackhawks recorded 22 blocked shots – not surprisingly, Niklas Hjalmarsson had a team-high seven of them.

5. Almost there. The Blackhawks are just one game away from the all-star break but they’re not even talking about it right now. They’ve put together a great stretch heading into this weekend and they don’t plan to kick back and relax until their final pre-break game on Tuesday. Said Crawford, “We’ve got one more game against a team that’s been flying under the radar this year. They’ve been playing good hockey so there’s no break. No talks of break yet.”

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.”