Blackhawks

Stalberg's hat trick helps Blackhawks end skid

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Stalberg's hat trick helps Blackhawks end skid

Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 10:55 p.m.

Viktor Stalberg had come close to getting hat tricks against the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this season. But in two previous games here he had to be happy with two-goal performances in each.

On Tuesday, he got his trifecta.

Stalberg notched his first career hat trick and Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 34 in the Blackhawks 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets. It was a big night for Stalberg against a team hes pounced on; seven of his 12 goals this season have come against Columbus.

Ben Smith and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks, who had a scary moment in the first when Jonathan Toews took a Duncan Keith shot to the head. The shot hit Toews in the helmet, then hit off the post. Toews went to the locker room for a few minutes and came back with two sets of stitches above his left eye.

Its one of those things; it hits me in the face and it doesnt go in, joked Toews who still has stitches in his lip from the Edmonton game last week.

Stalbergs second goal proved to be the game-winner, and hes now recorded that all three times Columbus has played here this season.

It was something I had a couple of chances before to get and it hasnt happened, so its a great feeling obviously, Stalberg said. I wish it was like that every night. Hopefully I can keep it going against some other teams. But playing them it seems like Im getting a lot of chances and the puck is finding me a lot out there.

Stalberg completed his hat trick by chasing down an empty-net opportunity with 1:40 remaining.

Ive never seen him skate so fast on the empty netter, Jamal Mayers said. I mean hes fast but that was really fast. He wanted that hat trick.

The Blackhawks penalty kill also came up big on Tuesday. Steve Montador and Mayers both got instigator penalties for their respective fights against Jared Boll, and Montador was also assessed an unsportsmanlike. But the Blackhawks went 5 for 5 on the kill and Bolland scored a short-handed effort early in the second.

That made a huge difference, Toews said. We know its going to be a big part of us winning some tight games, and it couldve been much different tonight if we werent on top of our game there.

The Blackhawks got the special teams they needed on one end and the offense they needed on the other.

Six minutes were short handed (early) and we did an outstanding job of killing. It was effective for us coming out of there clean, coach Joel Quenneville said. Our power play needs to be better. But there are some good things in our game that were pleased with.

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.”