Blackhawks

Ryan Garbutt steps up in Blackhawks win over Lightning

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Ryan Garbutt steps up in Blackhawks win over Lightning

The Blackhawks said they're going to need help from "a little bit of everyone" in Duncan Keith's absence, not just on defense.

On Saturday, it was Ryan Garbutt who noticeably stepped up in the Blackhawks' 1-0 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lighting in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup Final, providing a spark on the third line.

"I thought he had a really good game," coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. "Much more speed, much more puck possession. That line was a factor as the game progressed."

Garbutt, who was a healthy scratch last week against Washington, logged 9 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time — his third-lowest of the season — against the Lightning, but his impact was far greater.

[MORE: Five Things - Blackhawks patience proves pivotal]

In his previous six games, Garbutt had recorded a total of 11 shots on goal. He also had just two combined shots in his last three games. On Saturday alone, he registered six, all of which came in the first two periods.

"It was just one of those games where there were a lot of chances," Garbutt said. "Unfortunately I couldn't get one past (Lightning goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis), but I feel like the more chances I get, the better I play."

Garbutt, who was acquired from the Dallas Stars in the offseason for Patrick Sharp, admitted he's still trying to get accustomed to playing the Blackhawks' style of play, but on a night they committed four penalties for the second straight game, he proved to be valuable on both special teams and even strength.

"Huge," Jonathan Toews, who scored the game-winning goal 17 seconds into overtime, responded when asked about Garbutt's — and other newcomer Artem Anisimov's — performance. "It's nice to have those two extra guys skating and playing smart defensively in the rotation. I think it keeps more guys involved in the game and obviously a game like tonight, or even the last one against Florida, where we ran into some penalty trouble, we keep our legs fresh when we're (on the penalty kill) and we go back to 5-on-5 too, so those guys have been huge for us so far."

Without Keith, who's expected to miss four-to-six weeks after having surgery to repair a right meniscal tear, the Blackhawks held the Florida Panthers, who were averaging nearly 30 shots per game entering Thursday, to a season-low 18 shots on goal and followed that up by shutting out the reigning Eastern Conference champions, who entered Saturday tied for the sixth-most goals scored and the eighth-ranked power play, picking up exactly where they left off last June.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Not a bad response for a team that lost their ironman on the blue line.

But Garbutt, who knows just how important Keith is on defense despite not being a part of last year's Stanley Cup run, won't take credit for it all.

"I think it's everyone stepping up, forwards and the (defense)," Garbutt said. "We've got guys playing big minutes back there. (Trevor van Riemsdyk) is playing great and getting better every game; same with (Viktor) Svedberg. All those guys are just picking up the slack and everyone's been working a little bit harder."

While he didn't have anything to show for it, Garbutt is slowly finding his rhythm and will look to build off arguably his best performance in a Blackhawks uniform yet.

"It's not easy to score in the National Hockey League," he said. "You've got to make sure to take advantage of your opportunities. I feel like I'm getting better every game."

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.”