Hawks Starting To Jell
Joel Quenneville guided the Colorado Avalanche to the playoffs in two of the three seasons he coached the Avalanche. That wasn't enough for him to keep his job after last season.
Now, with his new club, Quenneville's Chicago Blackhawks look for a third straight victory overall when they face his former team for the first time Monday night to open a five-game homestand.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chicago -145 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -145 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
From 2005-2008, Quenneville was 131-92-23 with Colorado, but just 2-2 in playoff series. The two sides decided to end their relationship in May.
"I was fortunate to be around very competitive teams (in Colorado),'' Quenneville said last spring. "At the end of the day, it was a good three years."
Quenneville didn't go long without a coaching job when he was hired to replace the fired Denis Savard on Oct. 16. The Blackhawks (5-3-3) beat Columbus 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night for its first road win while improving to 4-1-2 under Quenneville.
The Blackhawks return home where they are 4-0-2 and have outscored their opponents 23-12. After the upcoming home stretch, Chicago closes November with a six-game road trip.
"We have a nice home stretch here and we've got to take advantage of it," said Patrick Kane, who had an assist Saturday and has eight of his team-leading 13 points at home.
On Saturday, Patrick Sharp scored his team-leading seventh goal, Martin Havlat added his fourth and Jonathan Toews tallied the lone goal in the shootout for Chicago. Cristobal Huet made 48 saves.
Huet, who signed a four-year deal with Chicago in July, improved to 2-2-1 with 2.73 goals-against average and could earn a second straight start in this contest.
"That was definitely a goalie win," Quenneville said. "He was great and we battled back there. I fell like he (Huet) was the story of the night and we found a way (to win)."
Huet is 2-2-0 with two ties and a 2.31 GAA against Colorado, but hasn't faced the Avalanche since January 2006. Backup Nikolai Khabibulin is 3-1-2 with a 2.44 GAA on the season, but has lost three of his last four starts versus Colorado.
Havlat, who has at least one point in five straight games and six during that span, has a goal and three assists in his last four contests versus the Avalanche.
Chicago went 3-1-0 against Colorado last season and will try for a third consecutive victory over the Avalanche (5-6-0), who have lost three in a row after winning five straight.
Milan Hejduk had a goal with an assist in Colorado's 5-3 home loss to San Jose on Sunday night. After outscoring their opponents 20-11 during their five-game winning streak, the Avalanche have been outscored 12-5 during the skid.
"We have been on a roller coaster," Colorado coach Tony Granato said. "We've done things well enough at certain times to make us feel optimistic, but when you lose games, you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing."
Peter Budaj made 24 saves in his second straight loss to fall to 3-5-1. Though Budaj is 3-0-1 with a 2.05 GAA against the Blackhawks, backup Andrew Raycroft could get the start as the Avalanche play on consecutive nights for the first time this season.
Raycroft is 2-1-0 with a 3.76 GAA in his first season with Colorado, but has allowed eight goals in his last two contests. He is 0-2-0 with a 3.40 GAA versus the Blackhawks.
Hejduk, who has a goal and two assists in his last two games, had the same versus Chicago in four games last season.