Hawk Talk: The Shutout Shuffle From Rinkside

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Hawk Talk: The Shutout Shuffle From Rinkside

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.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

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