MONTREAL – Okay, so they aren’t the hottest team in the NHL right now.
The Chicago Blackhawks are 5-1-4 in their last 10 games and are going through one of their leanest stretches of the season.
But the defending Stanley Cup champions, winners of two of the last four Cups, are about the closest thing we have to a dynasty in this salary cap era and with stars like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith they light up any rink they visit these days.
Remember what that used to be like, going back to, say, the Edmonton Oilers of the ’80s or the Detroit Red Wings of the ’90s and early 2000s?
You knew you were seeing something special when those teams came to town.
’Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has got one of the most talented teams in the league, but the thing that sets the ’Hawks apart is that skill combined with a pretty consistent work ethic.
“You’re not going to be great every night. I think the consistency of energy and effort across the board with our team is probably is as good as you’ll find with any team around over the course of the season.”
- Chicago coach Joel Quenneville
With his team not quite firing on all cylinders right now, Quenneville is going to shake things up for the game Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, promoting Marcus Kruger, recently named to Sweden’s Olympic team, to the second line with Kane and struggling Bryan Bickell.
“Over the course of the season you want to try different things. It gives you a chance when you don’t like the way things have gone over a stretch of games here. I think you usually get energy off it as well. I think that’s the thing we’re looking for,” said Quenneville.
“Kruger has played very well for us. Over the last stretch of games he’s been on of the forwards that seems to have pace to his game, some excitement in his game.
“I’m sure he’s excited about getting selected to represent his country, as well. Last game we moved him up because he deserved to be moved up the way he was playing. We wanted to shake the lines up with the way we were playing. To me, he earned a promotion.”
The ’Hawks are third overall in the NHL, four points behind the Anaheim Ducks.