Coach Joel Quenneville came into Monday's postgame press conference sporting more of a scowl than a smile.
It wasn’t the look of a coach whose team just posted a 7-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Quenneville certainly recognized the positives in the game — you’re going to have a few when you score seven goals. But it was what the Blackhawks were giving up that he didn’t like.
“I still think we can be better in our own end,” Quenneville said. “That’s been one thing that’s been very noticeable on this home stand.”
The Blackhawks gave up 37 shots to the Leafs on Monday, 35 of which Scott Darling stopped in a victory that snapped a three-game winless streak. But it was one more example of how much the Blackhawks have allowed opponents in their last few games at the United Center. The Anaheim Ducks fired 44 shots on Corey Crawford. The Dallas Stars had 32, which isn’t too bad, but the quality was high.
If you look at the shots-per-game allowed by the Blackhawks this season, it’s not much different than last season: 30.2 per game last season compared to 30.8 this one. Again, it’s a combination of the shots allowed and the quality of those shots. Darling had to make several big stops against Toronto, including a stunning diving stop on Leafs center Nick Spaling. Quenneville was wowed by the stop. The defense that led to that shot, not so much.
“I didn’t like what happened before that, which made that save much more appreciated as far as him at that end of it,” Quenneville said. “The other five guys, I wasn’t too pleased with.”
This is not a damning of the Blackhawks’ defense. It’s been good this season. Nevertheless there have been enough games in which the quality and quantity of shots against has been a concern. Quenneville saw several positives coming out of the victory. He was happy to see more goals and scoring opportunities for the Blackhawks. He’d just like to see fewer great chances against.
“Our defensive zone coverage, too much time, too many shots and too much possession against us,” Quenneville said. “That’s something we have to rectify and improve upon.”