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Five Questions: Hawks' Quenneville in a good place

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Five Questions: Hawks' Quenneville in a good place
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says he feels lucky to be where he is in Dan Rosen's latest edition of "Five Questions."

NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville:

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can take sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time coaching wins list with a victory Tuesday against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Quenneville is tied with Pat Quinn for fourth with 684 wins. He is eight shy of tying Dick Irvin for third place and 98 away from Al Arbour, who is in second place.

Scotty Bowman, of course, has what could be an untouchable record of 1,244 wins.

Bowman, Arbour and Irvin are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Quenneville might be headed there one day. For now, he's content with his place in the history books and thrilled with his position on the bench.

Joel Quenneville is tied with Pat Quinn for fourth on the all-time coaching wins list with 684 wins. (Photo: Getty Images)

"I'm pretty excited about where I'm at," Quenneville told NHL.com. "I feel good about the situation and the privilege I have of working with the teams I have worked with in the past and now especially here in Chicago with winning a couple of championships. I'm privileged for coaching some great players in all the spots I've been at and some great teams, which helped me be where I am today. I'm thankful, appreciative.

"There's a lot to be excited about. I'm just enjoying it."

Quenneville better be enjoying it, because he's likely the envy of the other 29 coaches in the NHL. Fresh off their second Stanley Cup championship in four seasons, the Blackhawks entered the week leading the League with 53 points. They have six players who have scored at least 10 goals and eight players with at least 20 points, including Patrick Kane, who started the week second in the League with 45 points.

Quenneville spoke to NHL.com about some of the storylines that have been evolving recently around the Blackhawks, including the return of Kris Versteeg, their battered goaltending situation, Chicago's Norris Trophy candidate, the team's net-front presence, and the one negative in what has been an otherwise positive season to date.

Here are Five Questions with … Joel Quenneville:

Since Kris Versteeg has come back in the lineup he's been producing and you have found different spots for him to fit in. Has his return to Chicago been better than you initially thought it would be or has it been as expected?

"I think he's been kind of the way we thought he'd be. I like the versatility. With guys out you can play him in all situations. You can play him in all kinds of roles. He's useful in all ways. I like how handy he can be in your lineup and how you can put lines together, who he can play with, and both sides because you can play him at center as well. And we needed him. He's played with just about everybody and played every position here in a short amount of time up front. We haven't put him back at that [defense] position that we still have in our back pocket, but we'll see. He's played [defense]. He was a [defenseman] in junior. I'm not saying we'd ever go there, though."

The goaltending situation right now, missing Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin, obviously is not ideal. What is your philosophy for your goalies, because you have two in Antti Raanta and Kent Simpson who are new to the NHL?

"Right now you're under a situation where you've got a couple of guys that are happy to be here with this opportunity and you've got Antti who is playing and taking advantage of the chance to play regularly at this level. You've got to commend his approach and attitude and how well he's played in net. It's been a good situation.

Antti Raanta
Antti Raanta
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 6-1-1
GAA: 2.41 | SVP: 0.915
"You don't play any differently. That's kind of the approach we want. But I think Antti in a short amount of time here has stood in really well with his teammates. He's a really likeable kid. You like the way he competes. I thought he's done a real good job. And with Kent coming in, I'm sure it's a big jump from where he's been over the last year or two and, you know, we'll see."

It would be wrong to say Duncan Keith ever lost his touch, because he's been one of the League's top defenseman for a while. But do you think he is back playing with the form he had in 2009-10, when he won the Norris Trophy?

"I think he's better this year than he was that year. I think that year he had a major stretch of games where he was phenomenal and then he was fine. I think this year he started off OK but he's been excellent through the majority of the season. He and [Brent] Seabrook have been very, very good together as well.

"I think he's got a strong gap. He's killing plays. He's moving the puck quickly. He's getting involved off the attack. It seems like he's got more play recognition, patience with the puck. He has more directness to his play and the consistency you like in a defenseman, that's what we've been getting."

Andrew Shaw seems to always be around the net and in position to score. How has his game developed this season compared to last season?

Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw
Center - CHI
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 20
SOG: 64 | +/-: 11
"We give him something different and I'm sure he likes the opportunity to play on the power play, to be the net-front guy who has really helped our power play be more successful this year. I think what he does, he can sustain. He's good in puck areas. He makes these little plays that all of a sudden give us more patience and more zone time. He does have a real good knack of being in the right spot at the front of the net and trying to be disruptive with the [goalie's] eyesight. If he can be like that guy in Detroit that did it forever, [Tomas] Holmstrom -- hopefully he can grow into doing it exactly like he did, because that was perfection.

"It's a nice niche to carve out. He takes pride in that role. With the willingness and the know-how, not many guys are comfortable and able to do it like he has been in a short amount of time. But I think his overall contribution to our team game, his competitiveness and his relentlessness, you appreciate that. He's a good hockey player that has some feistiness in him. Everybody is going to be bigger than [Shaw], but he does what he has to do and that's what you appreciate about him."

There have been a lot of good things to talk about regarding your team, but the one negative has been the penalty kill, which is among the worst in the NHL. What have you been doing to try to solve that issue?

"We've been trying a few different guys up front and at the same time mixing up the pairs in the back end. We feel that the quantity and quality that we're giving up this year is not much different than what we were doing last year, and here our numbers are totally just the opposite from where they were last year. I think we have to stay with it. It could be a trendy thing. Let's rectify it by working hard, simplifying, maybe exerting more pressure points in our own zone. We have short stretches of feeling like we've got it going in the right direction and then we have a two-against night and all of a sudden we step back into it. We're trying to be positive through it and I don't think it's been disruptive enough that it's slowing down our team game. We believe we have the personnel that know how to do it. Let's get confident. Right now I think we're a little gun shy."

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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie