CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
With a 2-1 win over San Jose, the Blackhawks set a new NHL record by recording at least one point in 17 consecutive games. The Hawks took the record to another level by winning 14 of those 17 contests with only three shootout defeats and capturing 31 out of 34 possible points.
On a night when the Blackhawks offense couldn’t kick into high gear, their defensive play remained strong throughout. To say this club has a knack of winning is only a part of the story. What has made the 2013 Blackhawks a special team is their ability to succeed in close games. Out of the 14 wins recorded, only six have come by more than one goal.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has to be given a great deal of praise as he has steered his troops perfectly.
Coach Q. was known as a hands-off coach in the past, maybe a little too much so, at least by his critics. Quenneville looked for matchups during games but kept the throttle wide open and hoped for the best. The 2010 Stanley Cup winners were able to play at a very fast pace and let their offense be the their best defense.
This season Quenneville has tweaked things just enough to fit his personnel. Everyone is more responsible on the defensive side of the puck. Gone are the seemingly endless attempts at long passes to come out of the defensive zone. When a stretch pass happen these days it stands out.
Quenneville has been able to instill more pride in team defense, whether it is by back checking aggressively or blocking shots. The Hawks play as a unit, every player on the same page from the highest paid to the lowest, no one has cheated on their responsibilities.
There is renewed pride in special teams with the penalty killing efforts being top notch. To go hand in hand with the other improvements has been two goaltenders who have seldom let in a soft goal. The strong play by Corey Crawford and Ray Emery helps their teammates to relax and play with confidence.
In what could be called nothing less than a stunning improvement over last season, Emery in particular has been outstanding.
About the Author: