Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

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Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

Sunday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO Goaltender Corey Crawford wasnt tremendously busy at the start of the Blackhawks victory over Toronto on Saturday. So he must have enjoyed watching the scoring show at the other end.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who like any goaltender appreciates the big number on his teams side of the scoreboard. Obviously our top lines been unbelievable, probably one of the best in the league. But the other lines are smart and making the right plays.

It wasnt that long ago the Blackhawks offensive game was buoyed by three guys: No. 1-liners Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. More than a week ago, Toews said that the trio was feeling the pressure to score. It didnt help that the line Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were pretty quiet. They were not coming up with the big goals, not giving their opponents much reason to be very wary of them.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the current eight-game winning streak: the other lines started picking up the slack.

The Blackhawks are reveling in their offensive balance right now, getting scoring from every line and in every situation. In five games of this eight-game surge, the Blackhawks have scored four or more goals.

Chemistry helps. Enjoying a relatively healthy run right now, the Blackhawks have been able to commit to and stick with their line combinations. Players are attuned to what each other is doing, and its shown.

Of course the Blackhawks top line has continued to do its top-line duty, scoring in bunches and often doing so in top-line style. As Viktor Stalberg quipped after the Blackhawks latest victory, Toews, Kane and Sharp have had a couple of Harlem Globetrotter goals out there.

But others are following suit. Marian Hossa has retuned to his Hossa-like ways, garnering six goals and five assists in his last seven games. Linemates Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have two goals and two assists each in their last three games.

Michael Frolik has led the third-line charge. Working hard but point-less in his first nine games since the Blackhawks acquired him from Florida, now has two goals and two assists in his last three contests. Fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Stalberg have supplied the game-winners in the Blackhawks last two games.

Our line as a group worked well (Saturday) tonight. We kept getting in there, getting the puck, said Stalberg, who deflected Tomas Kopeckys shot for his 10th of the season. Weve got four lines rolling right now. Were spreading the ice out a little better.

Speading the ice out, spreading the scoring around, its all led to the recent run of success. The Blackhawks have been opportunistic, feeding off each other and making the opposition pay for mistakes.

The Blackhawks are a confident group right now, from their goaltender to their defensemen to their forward lines. Yes, theyve still had a few of those nail-biting third periods but their balanced scoring attack has them winning those games now instead of squandering them.

The Blackhawks scoring show is back. And its top three stars are joined by a strong supporting cast.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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.”