Blackhawks

Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need to get in Andersen's head

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Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need to get in Andersen's head

1. You got to Freddy, now crawl into his head. Good job by the Blackhawks in their last game getting shots and traffic in and around Ducks goalie Frederick Andersen. I think it’s been Andersen, more than any other Anaheim player, who has controlled the fate of his team so far. Excellent play by the Danish stopper in Games 1 and 3 has gotten his team to a best of three against the Hawks. But we saw some vulnerability in his last start, where three of the five goals went in on him stick side. The five goals he allowed is also the most ever in his brief playoff career. It’s also the most the Blackhawks have scored in this postseason. Andersen was pulled last year in the playoffs during a crucial Game 6 start after allowing four goals to Dallas on just 12 shots. Not a lot of experience to fall back on for Andersen, so the Blackhawks need to try to get to him early to get him second guessing himself.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks' mantra: Be better in Game 5]

2. Keep the power play rolling. What an unbelievable series so far between these two powerhouse teams. The last game had more twists and turns than a Bavarian pretzel! From going up by two to going down by one in 37 seconds, and then tying it up on a much needed power play goal. And we’re talking about a window of five minutes in the third period. But one thing that has been a telling trademark of the outcome of these games has been special teams play. Both the Blackhawks and the Ducks are a perfect 6-0 when they score a power play goal. Really liked the thought process in the last game where the Hawks limited passing and concentrated on getting shots. Brad Richards on the first unit provided a huge spark on the game-tying goal.

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3. Play the speed game. Sure seems like Anaheim’s hitting has taken a step back. Yes, they had 60 hits in Game 4, but that was over the course of almost 86 minutes of playing time. The Hawks defense did a better job of avoiding hits with their speed and elusiveness. Hitting certainly takes its toll, but it also takes a toll on the hitter and the Ducks seemed to have backed off a bit in this respect. Get pucks out of your zone in a hurry, even if it means flipping it into the air and into the Ducks' defensive zone where you can race for it. Tape-to-tape passes are what feed the speed game, though, and the Blackhawks have to make sure their passing is on the mark.

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.”