The Blackhawks have enjoyed unprecedented success under Joel Quennville. The win over the Wild gave the Blackhawks their fourth trip to the western conference finals in the last six years. He is the first coach to take the Hawks to four conference finals in the post expansion era.
Even more remarkable is their 12-2 record with a chance to clinch a series. Their only losses with a chance to clinch were game five at Vancouver in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals and game seven against the Canucks in 2011 in the first round. The Blackhawks had comeback from 3-0 down to force a seventh game in that series. It took a Jonathon Toews short handed goal with less than two minutes left to force overtime.
The Blackhawks seem to do better when the game takes on greater importance. In the same time span the Blackhawks are also 6-4 in games when they face elimination. Not only do they close the series out, they do so in dramatic fashion. Four of the last five series clinching goals have come with less than a minute left or in overtime.
To succeed in sports requires great leadership. The Blackhawks have that with Quenneville at the top and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the ice. Quenneville is the third winningest coach in NHL history. This year marks his 15th playoff appearance and his fifth trip to the conference finals. Four of those trips to the conference finals have been with the Hawks. The Blackhawks and Quenneville have enjoyed their greatest success with each other.
Coach Q has been able to get his best players to rise to the top in the most important games. In the 13 games with a chance to clinch, the three leading scorers are Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith. Kane has 11 goals and six assists for 17 points with four game winning goals, Toews has five goals and 11 assists for 16 points with three game winning goals and Keith has three goals and 11 assists.
The Hawks are lauded for their depth and other players such as Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brian Bickell, Dustin Byufglien and surpringly Kris Versteeg have stepped up with a chance to end their opponents' season.
The Hawks have reached amazing heights over the last six seasons. Their ability to focus when a series is on the line is remarkable. It's why they have won two Stanley Cup titles in the last four seasons.
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