Hawk Talk: The Shutout Shuffle From Rinkside

Hawk Talk: The Shutout Shuffle From Rinkside
March 28, 2010, 10:37 pm
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Sunday, Mar. 28, 2010
5:32 P.M.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

One of the more frequent criticisms of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is that he doesnt manage goalies well. While a glimpse at Coach Qs time in Chicago might immediately elicit a suggestion critics take a gander at what the mentor has had to work with, but the point is that this has been persistent criticism that stretches much earlier than just Quennevilles days piloting the Blackhawks.

By any measure, Cool Hand Q was slow to warm to rookie Antti Niemi, who authored a shutout in his first game of the season and, certainly when compared with incumbent veteran Cristobal Huet, hasnt looked back. Quenneville was also a bit disingenuous coming right out of the blue before the Olympic break with sudden talk of defending the net as the main criteria for determining his goalie starter.

But one criticism that seems most unfair of Quennevilles handling of his netminders has been for his propensity to sub in a new goaltender after one pitches a shutout. The traditional thinking is to let a goalie coming off a shutout skate onto the ice the next game, even if facing a back-to-back.

Its interesting to note that while switching out a goalie after a shutout seems counterintuitive, Quenneville has played his hunches correctly this season. In the six games the coach has switched out a starting netminder after a shutout, the Blackhawks are 4-2-0. When Q has kept his shutout goalie in net for the next game, Chicago is 2-1-1.

Of course, the biggest sting of the season, Thursdays 8-3 shellacking at the Columbus Blue Jackets, came after Huet was given the start in spite of Niemi recording two shutouts in his previous three outings. Overall, Niemi is 1-0-0 when starting the next game after a Huet shutout; Huet is 3-2-0 when starting after a Niemi whitewash.

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.