Quick Hits: Blackhawks turn in another complete effort in win over Oilers

Quick Hits: Blackhawks turn in another complete effort in win over Oilers

Coach Joel Quenneville was already happy with this Ice Show trip, even before the Blackhawks suited up for Saturday's game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Still, there's something to be said about putting a finishing touch on a long road trip, and the Blackhawks put an exclamation point on this one with their 5-1 victory over the Oilers. The Blackhawks enter the bye week on a five-game winning streak. Trailing the Minnesota Wild by three points, they'll now sit and watch the Wild play this week.

Chicago, we're heading your way again. Before we do, let's look at some notables to take from the Blackhawks' victory.

What Worked: Pretty much everything. The Blackhawks, who have improved throughout this road trip, played their sharpest game to date on Saturday night. Outside of the first four minutes in which the Oilers flashed their speed and Connor McDavid's brilliance, it was all Blackhawks. Honorable mention to the Blackhawks' power play, which scored on both opportunities it had.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

What Didn't Work: The Oilers. Edmonton was coming off its bye week and you would've figured it would have been the more energetic group. But the Oilers made too many mistakes and the Blackhawks overwhelmed them. So much for rest being beneficial.

Star of the game: Richard Panik. We've said it a few times but it bears repeating: the trade the Blackhawks made for this guy paid off. Panik scored two more goals on Saturday, establishing his new career high of 14 for the season. He has new career bests in assists (13) and points (27), too. A few weeks ago Panik said he felt good about his entire game, whether or not he was getting points. Still, he'll take them.     

He Said It: "First fight of my life. I don't know. I don't think he's been in many either. I don't think either were looking to knock each other out. It was fun to do it for the first time." — Vinnie Hinostroza after he and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fought late on Saturday night.

By the Numbers: 

599 – Assists for Jonathan Toews after recording two more against the Oilers on Saturday night.

398 – Career victories for coach Joel Quenneville for the Blackhawks.

145 – Blocks this season, which leads the NHL, for Niklas Hjalmarsson. The defenseman recorded two more against the Oilers on Saturday.

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.