Blackhawks

Kane, Panarin power Blackhawks to win over Oilers

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Kane, Panarin power Blackhawks to win over Oilers

The combination was fantastic from the start, the very skilled Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane and, as Panarin called big center Artem Anisimov, “the missing piece.”

When it went a little quiet, coach Joel Quenneville broke them up, sending a deserving Panarin to the top line. But that didn’t work so well, so the score-happy trio was reassembled heading into Sunday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Guess how that turned out?

Patrick Kane had a a goal and three assists, Panarin had two goals and an assist and Anisimov had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks beat the Oilers 4-2.

Corey Crawford had a strong rebound game, stopping 34 of 36 shots. Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson had an assist each.

And on offense it was another show by the Blackhawks’ second line. While the Blackhawks would certainly like their other lines to join in that trend, on Sunday, they happily took the second line’s contributions.

[MORE: Five Things: Corey Crawford bounces back in Blackhawks win]

“We wanted to try him with Jonny [Toews], see how that line would look together. It was just OK. And that group together has been fun to watch,” Quenneville said of the second line. “I’m sure they’re happy to be back together again and got it going right off the hop; so good night for that line. They continue to be, a lot of nights, the only form of production we’re getting.”

Panarin’s goals, both of which came in the first period, were his first since Oct. 10 against the New York Islanders. Kane is now on a 10-game point streak, the longest of this young NHL season. Anisimov garnered his 200th career point when he assisted on Kane’s goal – the game winner – and added a power-play goal with 5.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

“Yeah, we have some chemistry,” Kane said. “I think all three of us, the way we want to play, is very similar. We do a good job of supporting the puck, hanging onto the puck, trying to make plays. We went stale there before they broke us up there. It was nice to get back together and have a good night.”

And when the second line wasn’t doing its work, Crawford was doing his. After giving up six goals against St. Louis and three first-period goals against New Jersey – he was pulled after those first 20 minutes – Crawford was strong again. He was at his best in the second period when the Oilers, determined to erase the 2-0 lead Panarin had set in the first period, fired 22 shots at him. He stopped them all.

Crawford usually likes those busy periods.

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“I mean, when you're stopping 'em, yeah,” Crawford said with a laugh. “That many shots, you know, you don't really want too many scoring chances. You give too many, teams are going to take advantage. But that was a good one. That was a good one for me to get back into it, and that was a big win for us.”

The Blackhawks didn’t play their greatest game of hockey on Sunday night but they found a way to take one at home, where they’ve been very successful this season. Crawford did his part on one end and the successful second line did its on the other.

“It kind of seemed like eventually they would be back together at some point,” Crawford said. “That was an awesome game by those three and another big goal by Kaner. It just seems like he comes up with those every other game or so, and we definitely needed that one tonight, that goal by him.

“Again, the team, they came back after we get the lead. They kind of come back and make it interesting,” Crawford said. “But after two tough losses, that's a good win for us.” 

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.”