Hawk Talk: Bowman has Kudos for Coach Q

Hawk Talk: Bowman has Kudos for Coach Q

Monday, May 24, 2010
10:32 PM

By Brett Ballantini

With nine Stanley Cup wins and an NHL all-time best 1,244 regular-season victories, Chicago Blackhawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman has been around the rink a few times.

So without deifying a man who felt such kinship with the Cup he named his son (now Blackhawks GM) Stan, there can be no higher praise of a coach than whatever spills from Bowmans lips. And the Hall-of-Famer was quick to praise the job Joel Quenneville has done with the Hawks after Sundays Western Conference finals-clinching win over the San Jose Sharks.

Its so great for Joel, Bowman said. Youve got to have players, of course, but Joel has paid his dues. Its about time.

Bowman was quick to note that Quenneville had indeed coached in the Stanley Cup Finals, as an assistant under Marc Crawford for the 1997 Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche. But after 10 previous playoff runs in 12 years prior to 2009-10, its Cool Hand Qs first taste of the Stanley Cup Finals as a head man.

No one knows a team better than a head coach, Bowman said. This team has stayed focused despite being young and not quite through all the playoff battles a Stanley Cup team usually has.

Bowman also praised Quennevilles work guiding a team that is so marked by youth overall and guided by such young stars as Jonathan Toews (who turned 22 during the playoffs) and Patrick Kane (21). He could recall only his first Cup winner, the 1973 Montreal Canadiens (ironically, cough, upending the favored Blackhawks in the Finals), as having such a young element on it. But the sum playoff points total of players 22 and younger for Bowmans 1973 Habs was just 19 (led by Guy Lafleurs eight) while Toews (26 points) and Kane (20) lead Chicago in playoff scoring (and Toews leads all NHL playoff scorers), and 22-year-old Niklas Hjalmarsson has chipped in five points as well.

This most recent sweep was perhaps as the coup de grace of a brilliant coaching run for Quenneville this spring. Count Bowman as one of many veteran observers who were downright amazed at how well Coach Q focused his team specifically for the Western Conference finals.

These two teams Chicago and San Jose were neck-and-neck all season, the veteran mentor said. By that measure, you couldnt find two more evenly-matched teams. And yet the Blackhawks are advancing with a sweep. I just dont know how you couldnt have done a better coaching job than Joel did.

Blackhawks must 'regroup fast' after falling behind 2-0 against Golden Knights

Blackhawks must 'regroup fast' after falling behind 2-0 against Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for a reason. They are one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the league, and the Blackhawks are seeing it first-hand in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In a 4-1 loss in Game 1 on Tuesday, the Blackhawks were reminded that the Golden Knights can tighten up defensively as good as anyone. In Game 2 on Thursday, the Golden Knights reminded the Blackhawks why they were the NHL’s best puck possession team during the regular season and showed how dangerous they can be when they dictate the pace of play.

The Blackhawks went toe-to-toe with the Golden Knights for two periods, but the Golden Knights imposed their will in the third period and overtime and eventually cashed in at the 7:13 mark to take a 2-0 series lead.

"I thought we were playing really well the first two periods," said Patrick Kane, who had three assists in Thursday's 4-3 loss. "And for whatever reason it just seemed that they came out better than us in the third. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was, especially after we tied it up. But they’re a good team, they’re going to fight back, and they carried the play for most of the third."

The Blackhawks made significant lineup changes going into Game 2, looking for a spark after struggling to break through Vegas’ tight-checking style in Game 1. Adam Boqvist, most notably, was a healthy scratch in favor of Lucas Carlsson, who logged only 10:33 of ice time and had a plus-2 rating.

The Blackhawks also changed up the look of three of their four lines and, for the most part, it worked. But the Golden Knights were too much to handle, even without their leading scorer Max Pacioretty, who was ruled "unfit to play."

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From the third period on, the Golden Knights led in shot attempts (36-16), shots on goal (23-7), scoring chances (21-8) and high-danger chances (7-3), according to Natural Stat Trick. It was a dominant effort, and only a matter of time before they broke through.

"They're a really good third-period team and they had a hard push," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I would've liked to see us handle it a little better. ... Disappointing, because I thought the guys played hard. But at the same time, we need to keep getting better, keep improving. We're not out of it. We're going to regroup and come back raring to go for Game 3."

Credit the Blackhawks for rallying from a two-goal deficit to even the score at 3-3 by the end of the second period. They showed, yet again, that they won't go down without a fight and are never out of a game.

But they've given up the first goal in five of six postseason games now and have yet to play with a lead in 127:13 minutes against the Golden Knights. That needs to change if the Blackhawks want to get back into this series, which is going to be difficult considering teams that go up 2-0 in a series go on to win 87.2 percent of the time.

It's a crucial weekend for the Blackhawks, who have a day off on Friday before playing back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.

"Once we find our groove, we’ll be alright as a group," Kirby Dach said. "It’s tough to swallow this one right now. We had chances in overtime to put the game away. That’s not the way it went, so we’ve got to regroup fast here because these next two games are coming up quick." 

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford bounce back, but Hawks drop Game 2

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford bounce back, but Hawks drop Game 2

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 in overtime to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first round series, but saw strong performances from Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford that were missing in Game 1.

Here are three takeaways:

Hi, Kaner!

Patrick Kane and his elite play-making ability punched into Game 2 with three second-period assists.

Kane only had four points (one goal, three assists) in the Hawks' first five games of the postseason, with zero and a +/- rating of -2 against Vegas in Game 1.

Early on Thursday, it seemed like the three-time Stanley Cup champion winger was trying to jumpstart his postseason game to help Chicago even the series. Kane hit the post after beating Robin Lehner five-hole in the first period on a Blackhawks power play.

Then, Kane picked up a secondary assist, passing the puck to Calvin de Haan, who fed Kirby Dach for Dach's first career NHL playoff goal to cut the Golden Knights' lead to 2-1 at 3:17 of the second period.

At 12:07 of the second frame, Showtime picked up the primary helper on Dominik Kubalik's power-play goal that tied it 2-2, for the rookie's fourth goal in six postseason contests.

Late in the second, trailing 3-2, Alex DeBrincat passed it to Kane, who fed Dylan Strome in front of the crease to tie it 3-3 with 14 seconds remaining in the period for Strome's second postseason goal.

With Kane's third assist in the game, he passed Bobby Hull (129) for third in most playoff points in Hawks history with 130. Denis Savard is in second with 145 and Stan Mikita is No. 1 with 150.

Roll call

Blackhawks rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist, who had been on the top pairing with Duncan Keith all though the postseason, was a healthy scratch for Game 2. Boqvist has zero points and a +/- rating of -3 from the Hawks' first five postseason games.

Lucas Carlsson drew into the lineup for Boqvist and Calvin de Haan skated with Keith on the top D pairing. It was Carlsson's first NHL playoff game. The 23-year-old defenseman made his NHL debut with Chicago this year and had one assist and +/- rating of +3 in six games with the Hawks this season. Carlsson recorded a +/- rating of -2, a shot on goal and a hit in 10:33 of ice time in his postseason debut.

Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty was "unfit to play" for Game 2. Pacioretty, Vegas' leading scorer during the regular season, missed the round robin with an injury but recorded four shots on goal against the Blackhawks in Game 1.

Related: Blackhawks make lineup changes for Game 2 vs. Golden Knights

Crow's back

After a rough Game 1 against the Knights, in which Crawford allowed four goals from Vegas' 34 shots, he had a rebound performance for Game 2. 

There were two goals Crawford would have liked to have back in Game 1. He didn't look like the netminder who saved 43 of 45 shots the game before against the Oilers to clinch the qualifying round series. 

After giving up two goals on seven shots in the first period of Game 2, Crawford battled back, as he's been known to do, and stopped all nine shots he faced in the second and all 16 in the third — with the Hawks being outshoot 16-6 — to get Chicago to overtime tied 3-3. 

Vegas' push in the third was no surprise as they had outscored opponents 10-1 in their first four postseason games in the final regulation frame, making Crawford's performance all the more impressive.

Reilly Smith scored at 7:13 of overtime to win it for the Knights 4-3 and leave the Hawks trailing the best-of-seven series 2-0.

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