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Chicago Blackhawks: Analyzing Coach Q Era Win Streaks

By Colin Likas
Jan 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville during the post game press conference after achieving a tie for the second winningest coach in NHL history in a game against the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville during the post game press conference after achieving a tie for the second winningest coach in NHL history in a game against the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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If there’s one thing the Chicago Blackhawks have been known for under Joel Quenneville, it’s winning. And that includes lengthy win streaks in the regular season, a specialty of the Coach Q era.

Luckily for the Blackhawks and their fans, the team is currently immersed in one such streak, having taken its last eight games ahead of tonight’s tilt at Montreal. If the Blackhawks can defeat the host Habs, they’ll have surpassed their longest win streak from the previous season.

Speaking of the previous season, this current run got me to thinking about other strong runs for the club in Q’s years in charge. So, let’s take a look at those streaks, what they meant in terms of the season they occurred in and what they can tell us about this season and the current streak.

chicago blackhawks
Jan 12, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) is congratulated by center Jonathan Toews (19) following the third period against the Nashville Predators at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

2015-16: 8 games (Dec. 29 at Arizona through Jan. 12 vs. Nashville; ongoing)

Before: 20-13-4 (longest win streak, 4 games)

After: TBD

The Blackhawks were holding their own in the Central Division prior to this current run, but it looked as though the Dallas Stars were about to lock up the division in December. Eight consecutive victories later, and the Blackhawks are within two points of the division leaders (though with one more game played). They’ve also put a small amount of distance between themselves and the third-place St. Louis Blues, who sit three points behind the Blackhawks having played an additional game.

This may end up being the streak the Blackhawks need in order to play good, not great, hockey the rest of the way. AKA, they can coast into the playoffs without having to overextend the likes of Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, as well as forwards like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. You’ll see a little of what I’m talking about with “coasting” when we examine previous streaks under Q.

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Dec 11, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) takes a shot at Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) while right wing Kris Versteeg (23) is up ended by defenseman Dougie Hamilton (27) during the second period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

2014-15: 8 games (Nov. 26 at Colorado through Dec. 11 at Boston)

Before: 12-8-1 (longest win streak, 3 games)

After: 29-19-5 (longest win streak, 4 games twice)

These Blackhawks were off to a so-so start when they went on an abrupt tear, racking up six of their eight consecutive wins on the road — at Colorado, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Jersey and Boston. There are some real solid road victories in there, something this current run doesn’t have a whole lot of (road wins in the current eight-gamer were at Arizona, Colorado and Pittsburgh).

This is where we start to see a pattern of four-game streaks after lengthier runs earlier in the season. As you can see, after the Blackhawks’ top streak of the season ended, their longest run of wins was four games two separate times. That helped the team to a fine — not amazing — mark after the eight-gamer. Ultimately, that’s all they needed, as the game becomes a different beast once a team enters the postseason.

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Nov 21, 2013; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

2013-14: 6 games (Nov. 21 at Winnipeg through Nov. 30 at Arizona)

Before: 14-4-4 (longest win streak, 4 games)

After: 26-17-11 (longest win streak, 4 games)

Responding to a six games in 10 days stretch by winning all six of those games is pretty impressive. But when all six of the wins come on the road, that’s pretty much incredible. After starting their annual circus trip with a loss at Colorado, the Blackhawks wouldn’t lose again on their West Coast swing, knocking off Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Dallas and Phoenix by a combined score of 23-10. That margin of success feels more like the current Blackhawks — they’re just doing most of their handiwork at home instead of on the road.

The team honestly didn’t perform all that well after its longest successful run of the season, losing 28 games while winning 26. But considering this team was within a game of being favored to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, we can again say the playoffs are a different animal. One good streak, and the Blackhawks didn’t have to worry as much about the regular season. And, again, we see four-game streaks the order of the day for the Blackhawks before and after their largest stint.

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Nov 25, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2), Andrew Shaw (65) and forward Jonathan Toews (19) celebrate a goal by forward Patrick Kane (88) against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

2013: 11 games (Feb. 15 vs. San Jose through March 6 vs. Colorado; season started Jan. 19)

Before: 10-0-3 (longest win streak, 6 games)

After: 15-7-2 (longest win streak, 7 games)

You probably wouldn’t want to use this team as a comparison point, because it was just a really, really good team. An 11-game win streak surrounded by a six-gamer and seven-gamer — among other runs — in a lockout-shortened season? It’s unlikely we ever see anything like this again in NHL history.

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2011-12: 5 games twice (Dec. 8 at New York Islanders through Dec. 18 vs. Calgary; March 13 vs. St. Louis through March 21 vs. Vancouver)

Before first streak: 9-6-2 (longest win streak, 4 games)

Between streaks: 16-18-3 (longest win streak, 4 games)

Before second streak: 30-24-5

After second streak: 3-1-3 (longest win streak, 2 games)

Okay, so now we get into a couple interesting cases. This team, as well as the next one on the list, was not among Q’s best. It utilized John Scott as an everyday player, and occasionally on the blue line. But it’s amazing what a couple quick runs can do, as evidenced by the above records. The Blackhawks were absolutely average through large portions of the season, but they used two five-game streaks, totaling 20 points, to boost themselves to the sixth seed in the postseason. Of course, this was under the old divisional format, in which the Blackhawks were a worse seed with more points than the better seed they took on in the first round, the Phoenix Coyotes. But the point still stands: A good run or two can change a season for a team, and almost make it a cakewalk to qualify for the postseason afterward.

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2010-11: 8 games (Feb. 20 vs. Pittsburgh through March 5 at Toronto)

Before: 22-18-5 (longest win streak, 4 games)

After: 7-6-3 (longest win streak, 2 games twice)

This is the example that really shows how critical win streaks have been in the Q era. I don’t think I’m reaching too far in saying this has been the worst team Q has coached in Chicago. It was plundered by the first post-Cup purge, and it was trying to put the pieces back together, despite still having the likes of Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Role players though, amirite?

Remember, this is the team that lost its final game of the regular season, and only qualified for the playoffs because Dallas lost later that day. They played a thrilling half-series with Vancouver, and that was that. So an eight-game run for this team was kind of incredible, and also really important. It didn’t allow the Blackhawks to coast, as some of the above teams were able to, but it pushed them into the playoffs in spite of consistent struggles through the rest of the season. And once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. Like it very nearly did in this instance.

Next: Blackhawks Continue To Knock Out Milestones

2009-10: 8 games (Nov. 9 vs. Los Angeles through Nov. 25 at San Jose)

Before: 8-5-2 (longest win streak, 4 games)

After: 35-16-6 (longest win streak, 6 games)

Sometimes, a team just needs a kick in the butt to get going. That’s almost what this run seemed to provide, if you look at the records before and after the eight-game streak. The Blackhawks were middling to start this season, some of them probably struggling to adjust to a shortened offseason as a result of skating to the Western Conference finals. Then, they won four consecutive home games, followed by the first four games of the circus trip. Afterward, they were a pretty tough out. They were then an impossible out in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Who knows how things might have been different without that eight-game run.

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2008-09: 9 games (Dec. 7 vs. Phoenix through Dec. 28 at Minnesota)

Before: 11-6-7 (longest win streak, 4 games)

After: 26-17-5 (longest win streak, 4 games twice)

This one felt like Coach Q’s call to Blackhawks fans, the team, the media — we’re going to turn this thing around, right now. This, of course, was Q’s first season behind the Blackhawks bench, and while the results after he took over for Denis Savard four games in weren’t awful, they also weren’t impressive. Enter the second-longest run the team has had under Q, and things suddenly looked a lot more rosy. It was one of the first on-ice signs things were about to change for real, and for the better. Also, considering the Blackhawks were just barely the No. 4 seed (with first-round home ice) in the playoffs, this streak was especially beneficial when the postseason rolled around.

So there you have it. The Blackhawks have benefited in a number of ways from their seemingly annual lengthy win streak under Coach Q. How will this season’s run — no matter how long it lasts — impact this team and be remembered in history? Should be interesting to find out.

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