Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Don't sleep on the Blues

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NHL Power Rankings: Don't sleep on the Blues

The Blues have rattled off five consecutive wins against impressive teams, and are now just two points behind the Blackhawks — and one point behind the Stars — for the Central Division lead with a game in hand. The Stars still control their own destiny with two games in hand against Chicago and one against St. Louis.

Meanwhile in the East, the Capitals continue to pull away from the pack while the Lightning rebounded from a 1-4-0 record in their previous five games to win three straight games.

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 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

43-10-4, 90 points: A strong week for the Capitals, who rolled off three straight wins over Los Angeles, N.Y. Islanders and New Jersey. They've now won eight of their last nine games.

2  

31-19-8, 70 points: The Ducks have scored 24 goals during their five-game winning streak, four of which have been against divisional opponents. They're also 8-for-18 on the power play during that stretch (44.4 percent success rate).

3
 
4

38-19-5, 81 points: Before getting shellacked in the Stadium Series Game, the Blackhawks scored eight power play goals in their previous three games for a 2-0-1 record without Marian Hossa, who's nursing a lower-body injury.

4

 
5

35-17-9, 79 points: Brian Elliott has been sensational in February in the absence of Jake Allen, who was taken off injured reserve over the weekend, as the Blues have won five straight. This may be a rare case of a healthy goaltending controversy. Bad news: Alex Steen will miss at least a month with an upper-body injury. The injury bug strikes again.

5

 
2

34-20-4, 72 points: The Kings are 5-7-1 in their last 13 games, but there shouldn't be much concern. They ran out of gas last season after three deep postseason runs (which included two Stanley Cups) before that. This is the time where teams that can flick the switch on and off with ease hit cruise control. Also, eight of their next nine games are at home.

6
 
7

30-20-8, 68 points: The Penguins haven't lost back-to-back games in regulation since Dec. 18-19, continuing to rack up points (going 2-1-1 last week) even without Evgeni Malkin, who's missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury. The Mike Sullivan experiment is working.

7

 
 8

34-18-7, 75 points: Jaromir Jagr tied and surpassed Brett Hull for No. 3 on the all-time goals list, scoring his 742nd career NHL goal in a win over Winnipeg on Saturday. His best quote after the game, at 44 years old: "There's no reason to quit. I love the game. If I can play in the NHL, why not keeping going?"

8
 
 9

33-22-4, 70 points: After dropping four of their previous five games, the Lightning have rattled off three straight wins, despite getting outshot by a combined 47 shots during their winning streak. Steven Stamkos has scored a goal in three consecutive games for the first time all season.

9   7

37-17-6, 80 points: After winning four straight games — and seven of their last eight — to get back on track, the Stars relapsed by dropping three consecutive contests. In those last two, they allowed a combined 13 goals and 84 shots on goal.

10
 
11

34-19-6, 74 points: Henrik Lundqist has two shutouts in his last four starts. He had two shutouts in his previous 45 games. The Rangers will play seven of their next nine on the road, where they are 12-13-3 opposed to 22-6-3 at home. 

11

 
12

31-19-7, 69 points: The Islanders kicked off a seven-game road trip with a 1-0 shutout win over New Jersey. Thomas Greiss has a .945 save percentage in five February games, quietly breathing down Jaroslav Halak's neck. 

12
 
10

29-20-11, 69 points: The Red Wings are 0-2-2 in their last four games after going 4-0-1 in their previous five. 

13
 
13

32-21-6, 70 points: Brad Marchand has 15 goals in his last 16 games, and already set a new career-high with 30 goals. His previous career high in a single season was 28 goals in 2011-12. There are still 28 games left in the year. 

14


 
14 31-21-5, 67 points: While the Ducks have jumped San Jose in the Pacific Division, the Sharks quietly continues to collect points, going 4-1-1 in the last six games. They also acquired Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, adding some defensive and forward depth for the stretch/playoff run.
15
 
16

27-23-10, 64 points: Erik Staal has one points in his last nine games, which could soften the package Carolina receives in return if they elect to trade him before the trade deadline on Feb. 29.

16
 
17

27-21-11, 65 points: The Predators have picked up at least a point in six of their last seven games, which is crucial considering the teams above them in the Central Division keep doing the same. They haven't won back-to-back games in nearly a month, though, and they must start picking up the second point in overtime or shootouts, where they are 1-11 this season.

17
 
28 

27-22-10, 64 points: The Wild have yet to lose under interim coach John Torchetti (4-0-0) and have scored at least five goals in each of those four games. They're also allowed only two goals per game during that span, improving their numbers on both sides.

18
 
19 

31-27-4, 66 points: Is it safe to say that Colorado is this year's version of the 2015 Calgary Flames? They are by far the worst possession team in the NHL, controlling just 43.5 percent of even-strength shot attempts, yet keep accumulating points and remain in a playoff spot.

19
 
15 

29-24-7, 65 points: The Devils slipped three points out of the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference after going 0-3-0 last week. Will that affect the way they approach the trade deadline?

20
 
20 

26-21-11, 63 points: Shayne Gostisbehere extended his point streak to 15 games after scoring an overtime goal in Saturday's win. The NHL record for longest point streak by a rookie prior to this season was 10.

21
 
22 

27-25-6, 60 points: The Coyotes bounced back from a rough start to February by knocking off Montreal and Dallas in back-to-back games. Nine of their next 11 games, including the next five, are on the road, where they are 11-13-2 this season compared to 16-12-4 at home.

22
 
26 28-26-6, 62 points: Craig Anderson was named the NHL's third star of the week after posting a 1.58 goals against average and .951 save percentage, backstopping the Senators to three straight wins. 
23
 
18  28-27-4, 60 points: A report surfaced last week that the Canadiens are gauging the market for P.K. Subban. Who knows whether it's true or not, but it's an indication of how low the season has gotten for Montreal when one of the league's best defenseman in the middle of his prime is involved in trade rumors.
24

 
25

24-29-7, 55 points: Ryan O'Reilly will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury, which will give the Sabres a chance to see what Jack Eichel can do playing top-line minutes on a consistent basis.

25   21 

23-24-12, 58 points: In a rather surprising move, the Canucks acquired Markus Granland from Calgary on Monday in exchange for Hunter Shinkaruk, one of the teams' top prospects. That's the second time in the last year both teams made a trade with one another, inside the division.

26
 
24

26-29-3, 55 points: Kari Ramo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, which likely means Jonas Hiller won't be traded before the Feb. 29 deadline. Tough blow for the Flames, who won't have the option of getting some assets in return for either goaltender. 

27   25

23-29-7, 53 points: The Blue Jackets failed to cash in on six power-play opportunities against Buffalo on Friday, and got shut out 4-0 because of it.

28
 
27

25-29-4, 54 points: Andrew Ladd has three goals in his last two games, reminding playoff contenders looking to add that he could make an immediate impact.

29   29

22-32-6, 50 points: The Oilers will be an interesting team to watch at the trade deadline. They have the assets (Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) to retrieve a top defenseman, but they may wait until the offseason to maximize their return(s).

30   30

20-27-10, 50 points: The Maple Leafs added two more draft picks (a second-rounder in 2017 and 2018) by shipping Roman Polak and Nick Spaling to San Jose. They now have 27 draft picks total across the next three drafts. Toronto is rightfully taking one step backward to move two steps forward. 

*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.”