Second line shines again as Blackhawks top Islanders


Second line shines again as Blackhawks top Islanders

The Blackhawks’ second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane has gotten the lion’s share of the publicity this early season, and for good reason.

The trio has been the steadiest and most productive combination, by far, for the Blackhawks. And on Saturday, that continued.

Panarin had a goal and two assists, as did Kane, and Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his first career NHL goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night. The Blackhawks took the weekend back-to-back against the Islanders and have now won two of their first three games this season.

Scott Darling, in his first start of the season, stopped 28 of 29 shots for the victory. Brent Seabrook scored his first goal of the season, a 5-on-3 power-play goal, late in the game.

The Blackhawks have been trying to figure things out with their other three lines. A different player has been with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa each game – tonight it was Ryan Garbutt. Teuvo Teravainen was back centering the third line and was much more proactive. Last season’s fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw was reunited tonight.

The one constant amid all the early season line shuffling, however, has been the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane. At one point, the three had possession in the Islanders’ zone for so long, it looked like they were on a power play. Oh, and they scored on that possession (Kane).

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“It’s something special,” van Riemsdyk said. “They’ve been playing so well together. Every time they’re on the ice they’ve got it in the offensive zone, just making stuff happen. When that’s going on, as a D-man, you’re just trying to make room for them and let them operate and do their thing.”

The Arty Line, as coach Joel Quenneville called the group after Saturday’s game, has been doing just that for three games now.

“They’ve been fun to watch,” Quenneville said. “Some special plays and special players. Their puck possession is what we try to instill and enforce, and these guys know how to protect it and instinctually know where each other is. I still think there’s growth in our game, whether it’s on the lines, our overall pace and our thought process. But I like how we’ve improved.”

The Blackhawks have steadily improved in their first three games. Gone on Saturday were the mistakes they made on Friday, those bad passes that nearly turned into Islanders goals. Darling was strong from the start, stopping what opportunities the Islanders did have. The Blackhawks’ offense did the rest, be it that second line or defensemen van Riemsdyk and Seabrook getting in on the scoring.

For van Riemsdyk, who thought he had his first career goal last season – it was, instead, credited to former teammate Kris Versteeg – Saturday’s game was worth the wait.

“It’s nice when it comes in a win the way it did,” he said. “The first one [last year,] I was unsure. This one feels a little better, knowing it was mine. So yeah, definitely a moment I’ll always remember.”

After some ups and downs in their first two contests, the Blackhawks found steadiness in their game on Saturday night. That second line has been steady from the start.

“There’s an infinite amount of skill on that line,” Darling said. “They had that one shift that put everyone in a daze just watching them pass the puck around, pass the puck around. They were great all night. It’s nice to have them on the team.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns


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.”