Blog Entry

Going with what he knows

Posted on: May 30, 2010 3:49 pm
CHICAGO -- If there was any doubt how little faith Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has in Cristobal Huet, it should have been dispelled by his decision to leave the backup goaltender on the bench in Game 1.

Huet, it should be noted, has essentially been a bust since signing a lucrative free agent contract with Chicago before in July 2008. He lost his starting job to veteran Nikolai Khabibulin last season, and in this one, Huet has been displaced by rookie Antti Niemi.  And Niemi has gone on to be one of the biggest reasons for Chicago’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, much like Michael Leighton has been in Philadelphia.

But with both goalies getting shelled in the series opener, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had no qualms about turning to Brian Boucher after Leighton had allowed five goals. Boucher, who had been activated for this series after suffering what was believed to be a season-ending knee injury in the second round, turned in a credible effort, although he was fooled by the patience of Tomas Kopecky on the game-winning goal in the third.

Meanwhile, Huet was glued to his seat at the end of the bench, much like he has been for all but one period in this post season. Niemi was clearly struggling, misplaying a couple of the goals and not looking particularly sharp on the others. Still Quenneville said he never entertained the thought of replacing him. 

“We like the way he approaches games and he moves on after goals or after every situation,” Quenneville said. “I liked how he continued to persevere and was rock solid in the third period.  It's the way he goes about his business.  I just like the way he's playing.”
Quenneville couldn’t say the same about the rest of team’s effort in Game 1, and for that matter, neither could the rest of the players.

In fact Dave Bolland, who was arguably the best of the Blackhawks skaters, said he felt like a thief. And not because he picked the pocket of Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn before scoring a short-handed goal in the opening period.

“I’d say we stole that game,” said Bolland after he and his Chicago teammates had a chance to review the tape of their 6-5 win over Philadelphia. “We definitely didn’t play a Chicago Blackhawks game.

“We were scrambling around and giving up a lot of chances and we just can’t do that against a team like that.”

Bolland wasn’t the only Chicago player to talk about improving the defense on the morning after. The Blackhawks didn’t skate, but they did spend an extended amount of time reviewing the video that most of them probably would have preferred burning. When they finally opened the doors to their dressing room, some 30 minutes beyond the scheduled start of their media availability, they were all on message about the need to tighten up going forward.

And captain Jonathan Toews went one step further, opining that Chicago needs to approach Game 2 as a must win.

“We can have that mentality tomorrow, kind of pretend we’re down a game,” said Toews. “We’re really unsatisfied the way we started the series regardless of us being up 1-0 it means nothing, we can be much more desperate and play like we’re playing from behind, we’ll play a simpler game get our breaks.

“It’s not as much what they did as much as what we didn’t do on the ice. We were chasing the puck a little bit too much we weren’t supporting each other.”

But like everyone else in the room, Toews did support his coach’s decision to stick with Niemi.

“We know he’s been solid and he’s made big saves for us every game,” Toews said. “It was pretty evident our team game was a little sloppy, so there’s not much you can do when you get quality chances like that.”

Especially when your coach believes there is no other option.
Category: NHL

Since: Jan 17, 2010
Posted on: June 1, 2010 12:04 am

Going with what he knows

Well coach obviously knew what he was doing.  Niemi was solid in game two and the good guys are up 2-0

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2010 9:15 pm

Going with what he knows

when were hawks in finals before this year  Wan't it 1961?    Caps missed with this outfit twice.  Let's see where we are next year.  Habs were unbelievable but Flyers don't deserve to be here but they are.  It is all matchups.  Just saying a Caps Blackhawk series would be so unpredictable.

Just a Caps fam wishing thats all.  Dont take thread so seriously.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2010 6:58 pm

Going with what he knows

redwings 1969, nice to see ya. Was wondering why no analysis lately. You have a unique perspective. I'm glad the former Red Wing players we picked up are playng a role. When you can't beat 'em, become them. Here's hoping Niemi can play like Hasek the rest of the way and bring home a cup.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2010 6:52 pm

Going with what he knows

For anyone thinking this isn't a great series.....................
I don't know what more you want. 6 - 5, goalie controversy, refs creating a story line, top lines held in check, Pronger vs Buff, role players stepping up, how much more do you need? The game drew the best viewing in, like a decade, two teams hungry for a cup, the #1 and #2 draft choices from that draft, we could keep going. this is a great series regardless of the outcome. 

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2010 4:27 pm

Going with what he knows

What a series what would be? The Capitals are a regular season team. End of story. You give your team way too much credit.

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2010 3:27 pm

Going with what he knows

I like what Blackhawks are doing.  God I wish it was the Caps out there against them  What a series it would be.  Maybe best FInals in last 10 years.  If if if.  Chicago as sloppily as they played seemed in control during the whole game.  Their depth neutralizes Pronger's value.  Philly goalies are both jouney men and hawks should have no trouble scoring.  If defense just plays its game I think its Hawks in 5.  Can't wait for next season to begin. 

Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2010 3:15 pm

Going with what he knows

As a Hawks fan, I've got to trust Coach Q. He's done a heck of a job handling a team that's a mixture of young talent and middle-aged experience. If he feels like Huet's best spot is on the bench...I'm with him all the way.

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2010 12:48 pm

Going with what he knows

Why media conjecture? I think a lot of people thought Niemi might have been pulled after the 5th goal was scored on him. He was terrible in Game 1. I certainly thought he was going to get the hook, but it turned out to be the right move to keep him in. Huet was already brought in once this postseason, so it was obviously a thought before.

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2010 11:57 am

Going with what he knows

Unlike the Flyers, we really don't have a second option for G (Crawford I guess?).  Was Huet even an option?  One of the few failings of Coach Q this year was his constant pulling of goalies this year and I think Huet's confidence might be shot.  
This story has to be pure media conjecture as I don't think the Hawks even thought once about bring in Huet.

Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2010 10:14 am

Going with what he knows

Bobby Clarke hasn't been the GM for almost 3 years now.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or