Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Blackhawks remain undefeated in 2016

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NHL Power Rankings: Blackhawks remain undefeated in 2016

The Blackhawks have collected 22 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games, and have quickly surpassed the Stars for the Central Division lead by three points.

Meanwhile in the East, the Capitals continue to pull away from the pack while the Lightning have surged into the Top 5 thanks to an impressive five-game winning streak.

Check in with CSNChicago.com for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015-16 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

34-8-3, 71 points: From top to bottom, the Capitals are still the team to beat. They're 15-2-1 in their last 18 games, and have built a 17-point lead in the Metropolitan Division and a 14-point cushion in the Eastern Conference.

2   4

31-13-4, 66 points: During their 11-game winning streak, the Blackhawks have outscored their opponents 43-21. Canadiens coach Michel Therrien on the defending Stanley Cup champions: "I believe they look better than last year."

3

28-13-3, 59 points: What a week it was for Anze Kopitar, who inked an eight-year, $80 million contract extension to stay in Los Angeles and was named the NHL's third star of the week after recording seven points in three games.

4
 
11 

24-17-4, 52 points: Here they come. The Lightning have strung together five straight victories for the first time this season, and have pulled within reaching distance for the Atlantic Division lead.

5
 
3

26-14-5, 57 points: We're not going to drop the Panthers too far after following up a 12-game winning streak with a three-game losing streak simply because they may have needed some time to breathe after that sensational run. Let's see how they respond against upcoming home games vs. Edmonton, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

6  

26-15-7, 59 points: Brian Elliott has done a solid job at filling in for Jake Allen, who's out with a knee injury. The 30-year-old netminder stopped 46 shots in a 4-3 win over Montreal on Saturday.

7  

23-14-8, 54 points: The Red Wings are 5-1-1 in 2016 so far despite being outshot in each of those seven games. Credit that to Peter Mrazek, who owns a 1.31 goals against average and .957 save percentage in his last six starts.

8   10 

24-15-6, 54 points: John Tavares has three goals in his last 19 games, yet the Islanders still hold the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division. They're finding ways to get it done when their captain isn't at his best.

9   12 

21-16-7, 49 points: The Penguins have registered at least a point in eight of their last nine games. They're still on the outside of the playoffs, but they're only five points away from the second spot in their division with a game in hand on both the Islanders and Rangers.

10   5

29-12-5, 63 points: Not exactly where a team with the third-highest point total is expected to be, but the Stars are 2-5-2 in their last nine games, and have allowed 33 goals (an average of 3.67 goals against per game) during that span.

11   7

22-15-8, 52 points: The Wild have dropped their last four games, and it won't get any easier to dig out of as nine of their next 10 games are against teams currently in the playoffs.

12   13 

24-16-5, 53 points: The Rangers haven't won back-to-back games since Nov. 19-21. But they also haven't lost back-to-back games since Dec. 18-20, indicating they're consistently picking up points as of late.

13   14

23-16-5, 51 points: David Krejci has been upgraded to "day-to-day," which means the Bruins may be getting back their No. 1 center for Tuesday's showdown in Montreal.

14
 
9

23-19-4, 50 points: The Canadiens have outshot their opponents by a combined 32 in their last four games, but have lost all four of them. They've been victims of tough puck luck lately, and ran into some hot goaltenders (Corey Crawford and Brian Elliott) last week.

15
 
23

23-18-2, 48 points: The Jekyll and Hyde season continues for the Sharks, who have put together five straight wins, two of them coming against Pacific Division opponents.

16   21

20-15-8, 48 points: The Flyers are currently on a six-game point streak, and have quietly pulled themselves within two points from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

17   19

20-19-8, 48 points: Since Dec. 11, only Chicago (32), Washington (31) and Florida (25) have earned more points than the Hurricanes (24), according to Elias. They've picked up at least a point in eight of their last 10 games.

18   16 

20-17-8, 48 points: When Ryan Johansen and James Neal are on the ice together, the Predators control 66.1 percent of even-strength shot attempts. That's the kind of impact Johansen was supposed to make in Columbus.

19
 
18

19-18-7, 45 points: The Ducks are 4-3-0 so far during their eight-game homestand. Not bad, but not great for a team still looking to break through. Good news: Ryan Getzlaf is on a five-game assist streak.

20
 
20 

22-17-5, 49 points: The Coyotes are a bottom five puck possession team, yet they keep discovering ways to collect points with a win over Edmonton and overtime loss to Detroit last week.

21
 
15

22-19-5, 49 points: The Devils are 2-5-0 in their last seven games, and have scored only four goals in those five losses. Cory Schneider can only do so much.

22   17 22-21-3, 47 points: Six of Colorado's next nine games are against division opponents, a prime opportunity to gain some ground and creep into a wild-card spot.
23   25 19-17-10, 48 points: The Canucks have quietly gone 8-3-2 in their last 13 games despite being outshot in 10 of them, and ended the Panthers' 12-game win streak. Bad news: Henrik Sedin won't return until after the All-Star break due to an upper-body injury.
24   22

21-18-6, 48 points: The Senators wrapped up the week with a nice 5-3 win in Los Angeles, but allowed 11 goals in the previous two games to Washington and Anaheim.

25   26 

21-21-3, 45 points: The Jets picked up back-to-back wins against Central Division opponents Nashville and Minnesota, and will play their next six games at home, where they are 12-7-1 opposed to 9-14-2 on the road.

26   24 

20-20-3, 43 points: Sam Bennett scored six goals in three games last week, including a dominant four-goal night against the Panthers on Wednesday. The Flames are currently in a stretch of playing five straight games on the road.

27   29

18-23-4, 40 points: After losing six in a row, the Sabres have won three of their last four games, including a 4-1 win over top-seed Washington on Saturday.

28   28 

18-23-5, 41 points: The Oilers locked up goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year contract extension, which is one less distraction for a young team on the rise.

29   30 

17-25-4, 38 points: Seth Jones already has the third-most ice time on the team. It could get even better for the Blues Jackets if they land the first overall pick and select Auston Matthews, landing a No. 1 defenseman and franchise centerman in a span of half a year.

30   27

16-20-7, 39 points: James Reimer is back, but it didn't help much (if at all) as the Maple Leafs are 0-5-0 in their last five games and have been outscored 19-5 during that span.

*Advanced stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com

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.”