Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is about to join some heady company in the NHL’s all-time coaching ranks.
Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville needs just one more victory to move into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. He entered the game tied with legendary Montreal Canadiens bench boss Dick Irvin at 692.
But Quenneville has a ways to go before he can match Scotty Bowman, now a Blackhawks consultant, who leads the pack with 1,244 wins and former New York Islanders coaching guru Al Arbour, who has 782.
The Blackhawks are known as a hard-working team, but they definitely don’t like working overtime. The Hawks have an 0-6 mark in sudden-death sessions after a 5-4 loss in Calgary Tuesday night. The shootout hasn’t been overly kind to them, either. They’re 5-7 in the showdown segment.
As the Blackhawks return to Vancouver, Michal Handzus is again anxious to get back into the lineup -- but for a different reason. When the Blackhawks last played here in late November, the veteran center was on the verge of returning from an upper-body injury. He missed the game, but played the next game in Edmonton.
Now, Handzus is keen to play again after he was made a healthy scratch Tuesday in Calgary. Handzus, praised by Quenneville for his versatility, in other words, the ability to play on a scoring line or a checking unit, has only four goals and six assists in 37 games this season and is a minus-two. The minus-two mark is consistent with how he finished last season, which he split with San Jose, where he was a minus-nine and Chicago, where he went plus-seven while helping the Hawks win the Stanley Cup.
Marian Hossa is not just dangerous in 5-on-5 situations or on the power play. Hossa netted his third shorthanded goal of the season Tuesday in Calgary and is second among active players with 29 career shorties. Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson has also excelled in shorthanded situations this season, leading the NHL with four shorthanded points.
Former Blackhawks defenseman Ryan Stanton is proving to be a great waiver-wire pickup for the Canucks. Tthe 24-year-old St. Albert, Alta., native has one goal and 11 assists while averaging about 15 minutes of ice time per game. “It’s pretty cool,” said Stanton about playing against his former teammates. “I’ve got some buddies and stuff over there. I’m just happy to be here. I love playing for this organization.”
Wednesday’s contest will be Stanton’s 40th game of the season with the Canucks. During four full seasons in the Chicago organization, he only suited up for one regular-season game with the Hawks. Stanton, a prototypical 6-foot-2 and 196-pound rearguard who was never drafted, attributed his lack of playing time to the club’s defensive talent.
“They do have an awesome D-corps back there. They won the Stanley Cup (twice in recent seasons), so I was never complaining that I wasn’t getting a shot. I’ve stayed healthy throughout pretty much all the time I was with the organization. So the opportunity just didn’t really arise.”