Chicago Blackhawks

Hawks get Coach Q 600th win; Seabrook 'seems OK'

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Hawks get Coach Q 600th win; Seabrook 'seems OK'

The Blackhawks have had a successful formula working lately: good defense and goaltending and across-the-board scoring contributions. It was working again on Sunday night.

Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist and Joel Quenneville got his 600th career coaching victory in the Blackhawks 4-2 triumph over the Calgary Flames. The Blackhawks have now won five games in a row and seven of their last eight.

But it came with a scary moment early. Brent Seabrook was hit from behind by Rene Bourque late in the first period and did not return. Quenneville said Seabrook seemed not bad after the game.

Well find out more tomorrow. I just talked to him. He seemed all right, he seemed OK, said Quenenville, who is hopeful that Seabrook can make the trip to Pittsburgh for Tuesdays game.

Still, another high hit on Seabrook, who has had three head injuries already in his NHL career, was a concern.

When a guys got his back turned and you have more speed than him, it comes down to respect, said Jonathan Toews, who added he saw the hit as it happened but hadnt seen a replay yet. Head shots and head injuries arent going anywhere if we keep making plays like that, and that goes for everyone in the league.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual for the Blackhawks, who helped Quenneville become the second-fastest coach to reach 600 NHL victories (in 1,114 games). Toews presented Quenneville with the game puck afterward.

I just told them, what it means is Im getting old, Quenneville joked. Ive been with some good teams and some great organizations. Im fortunate in a lot of ways. Im in a great spot here.

And for the most part, he likes how the Blackhawks are playing right now. The offensive balance was there again, as four different Blackhawks scored. Hossa, Patrick Kane and Steve Mondator scored, as did Niklas Hjalmarsson, who got his first of the season.

I had a couple of good shots today, but sometimes they go in and sometimes they dont, Hjalmarsson said. I had a couple of good shots before, this season that just havent really gone in. So sometimes you have luck on your side.

The Blackhawks also got on top early again, something theyve made a point of doing in recent games. And despite losing Seabrook, the five remaining Blackhawks defensemen were strong through the rest of the game.

I just think it gives everyone that much more confidence in their own job, said Duncan Keith, who logged 28:33 of ice time, five shots on goal, three blocked shots and an assist. Sometimes a little save or a small play can make a huge difference in the game. Its given our team a lot of confidence.

The Blackhawks just keep rolling along. After a ho-hum November theyre now 7-0-1 in December. Theyve got a league-leading 46 points.

I just think were doing all the small things really well, said Hjalmarsson. Were getting pucks deep, forwards back-checked really hard and the (defense) got the puck out of our own zone. Were just real careful out there the way we play, and we play hard.

Briefly

Patrick Sharp had an assist, extending his point streak to a career-long nine games (7 goals, 6 assists). It is also the longest streak in the NHL this season.

Hossas goal and assist gives him a five-game point streak (4 goals, 6 assists).

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Brandon Saad back in veteran-like form for Blackhawks

Brandon Saad seems like more of an NHL veteran than he is. From his size to his composed style of play to what he’s already accomplished at this level, Saad gives off that vibe that he’s been around much longer than he actually has. Even his teammates forget that.

“You think he may be 27, 28 years old. He’s only 24 years old. He’s still a young kid,” Patrick Kane said. “Guys like [Ryan] Hartman and [Vinnie] Hinostroza are only 23 so he’s not much older than them, even though he might seem it. He’s got a great future.”

Saad’s future is once again being played out in Chicago and he couldn’t feel better about returning. Back in a familiar city and a familiar spot on the ice – alongside Jonathan Toews – Saad is ready to reignite the top line with Toews and Richard Panik. Outside of some scrimmages the line hasn’t gotten much of a chance to see where things are yet – their first preseason game was against Columbus on Saturday. But Saad said things are coming together.

“It was still [Toews’] first game back and my first time with him but we’re pretty familiar with each other. I don’t think it’ll take long at all,” he said following the team’s first practice at Notre Dame on Sunday. “Any time you come from a five-month summer into the season your timing’s always a little off, and then with a new player going back to a familiar player, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Toews recognized Saad’s desire to be a big part of this team when the left wing was a rookie. That drive hasn’t diminished.

“His rookie year I kept saying you could see that intangible quality in him, that he wanted to get better every single night,” Toews said. “You see players with raw, physical talent and ability but don’t take it upon themselves to be one of the guys every single night. Saader was showing that right away and you could tell he was just going to get better and better.”

The powerful part of Saad’s game the Blackhawks missed the most was evident in his first preseason contest back with him, against Detroit on Thursday. The Red Wings didn’t have their top squad but Saad was nevertheless dominant, recording a hat trick in which all three goals were within a few feet of the net. The top line has had that element here and there the past two seasons but no doubt felt Saad’s absence.

“He’s a high-end player or potential player that should develop into a regular scorer and who knows what he could do,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think there’s room where maybe he could go to a better level as far as production goes, because he gets so many looks around the net with his quickness and the way he protects the puck and the way he can shoot it.”

Saad reaching another level. Again, you see what he’s done so far and you forget that he’s only 24. He still has a lot of time – and potential – ahead of him.

“He’s stepping in here knowing he’ll be one of those guys heavily keyed upon for us,” Toews said. “And he’s ready for that and excited for it.”

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”