Friday, May 10, 2013
Quenneville demands more from Hawks
By Scott Powers
Joel Quenneville isn't celebrating because he wants his team to play better hockey.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't sound like someone whose team had just advanced past the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday.
The Blackhawks cruised to a win and eliminated the Minnesota Wild in five games on Thursday, but Quenneville wasn't laughing or smiling as he sometimes does after victories.
Quenneville had challenged the Blackhawks after they were outplayed in nearly every category and lost to the Wild in overtime in Game 3. The Blackhawks responded with a 3-0 win in Game 4 and a 5-1 win in Game 5, but Quenneville still wasn't pleased. He stressed more than once during his postgame press conference Thursday they have to improve if they're going to continue to move on.
"I still think we got to be better," said Quenneville, whose team won its first playoff series since the Stanley Cup finals in 2010. "I'm not doing cartwheels the last two games. I still think there's another level we got to to be more consistent in our game and the ratchet to playoff pace."
A good deal of Quenneville's concern stems from watching other playoff series. How the Blackhawks played against the Wild wasn't with the same intensity Quenneville has witnessed from other teams throughout the playoffs.
"I think we still have to get the different pace to our game that's catching up to the other series being played and what the playoffs are all about," Quenneville said. "It's not the regular season. There's another appetite we have to get as well. I don't think we should be happy where we're at with our play and let's get angry as we go along here."
The Blackhawks defeated the Wild in five games, but there were times, especially when the series was in Minnesota, that the Wild were noticeably more aggressive than the Blackhawks and dictated the pace. The Blackhawks rarely outhit teams, but Quenneville would also like to see then have more than their 13 hits in Game 3 and 10 in Game 4.
There were some areas the Blackhawks excelled in during the first round. Goaltender Corey Crawford has been as good as anyone in the playoffs. He had a 1.32 goals-against average and .950 save percentage against the Wild. The Blackhawks' penalty kill held the Wild scoreless on 17 power-play chances. The Blackhawks also received contributions up and down their lineup.
"We did a lot of good things this series," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said on Thursday. "We can be happy with that. But we know going forward, that it's only going to get tougher. We have to be better. We'll keep stepping up our game and look at the positives from this series and keep moving forward and be prepared for whatever's next."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane put a positive spin on the Blackhawks having to improve in the next series.
"I still feel that I'm sure a lot of us feel we could play better and there's another level for our team to get to," Kane said. "That's the exciting part. We'll try to get there next series."