Thursday, March 14, 2013
Hawks now finding success in shootouts
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville couldn't find much fault in his team during its record-breaking points streak, but one area did worry him.
Even as the Blackhawks were surging during their 24-game points streak to begin the season, Quenneville continued to stress the importance of shootouts and expressed concern his team had lost three of its first four shootouts. He vowed in February the Blackhawks' shooters and goaltenders would find ways to get better in the area.
Corey Crawford's recent play is one reason for the Blackhawks' newfound success in shootouts.
A month later, Quenneville has to be feeling good about where his team has come in shootouts. With Thursday's 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks have responded with three consecutive shootout wins since their last shootout loss on Feb. 12.
Kane prides himself on his shootout ability and was disappointed he had failed to score in each of the team's three shootout losses. Since then, Kane has been unstoppable, and the Blackhawks haven't lost in a shootout. He scored against the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 19, against the Detroit Red Wings on March 3 and again against the Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Crawford had also factored in all three shootout defeats. He gave up two goals against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 30, one against the Canucks on Feb. 1 and two against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 19. In his past two shootout appearances, both wins, Crawford stopped three shots against the Red Wings on March 3 and two more on Thursday.
Jonathan Toews also deserves some credit in the shootout. He has scored three shootout goals, including one on Thursday. Andrew Shaw is the only other Blackhawk to score in the shootout this season.
Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery is also 2-0 in shootouts this season. He has stopped five of the six shots he has faced this season.
As for Quenneville's theory about shootouts, the Blackhawks' four shootout wins have provided them four additional points, which happens to be the exact difference between the Blackhawks and the second-place Ducks. The Blackhawks lead the Western Conference with 47 points, and the Ducks are at 43 points following their own shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday.