Blackhawks finding different ways to score on the power play

Blackhawks finding different ways to score on the power play
December 19, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Patrick Sharp joked about the power-play propensity, something that seemed so foreign to the Chicago Blackhawks last season.

It’s almost like you just expect it to score every game, right?

“Never,” he said with a laugh. “You guys know special teams run hot and cold. Right now we seem to move it around pretty good, both units. Pucks are going in. It’s been the key to our success the last little while, but we want to be sure to remember what makes us successful.”

Yes, it has been successful. With at least one power-play goal in each of their last 10 games the Blackhawks are now ranked (gasp) third in the NHL, converting on it 24.6 percent of the time.

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So what’s made it successful? We’ll take a quick look at what’s worked:

1. They’re shooting.

That sounds like a no-brainer on how to make a power-play work, but the Blackhawks weren’t doing nearly enough of it last season. What they were doing, and way too much, was passing. The Blackhawks are still doing some passing, obviously, but now it’s for a purpose. They’re firing, and even if it doesn’t result in a goal it gets things going.

2. The Andrew Shaw factor.

We wrote recently how the Blackhawks needed a good net-front presence to help their power play, and Shaw has provided that. It doesn’t matter if he’s not the biggest guy out there. Whoever sits in front of the goalie has to shield him, know when to screen and when to redirect and how to take the punishment from the opposition. Shaw has done all that, and it’s been part of the reason the Blackhawks’ power play has scored often.

[MORE: Is Duncan Keith having the best season of his career?] 

3. Familiarity.

The Blackhawks’ power-play units used to change often when the team was struggling on the advantage. Now, they’ve remained the same for quite some time. Familiarity breeds confidence and certainty: players know where their teammates are, their tendencies.

4. Making their move.

Another problem for the Blackhawks last season was they were standing still too much. No movement, no shifting, no searching for the open lanes enough. Well, the Blackhawks are no longer statues on the power play. They’re active, using their strong skating ability to take advantage of the advantage.

The Blackhawks’ power-play personnel really hasn’t changed from last season. The results, however, have. They’re finding success on it, and it’s been beneficial in some of those final scores.

“We’re scoring in different ways,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have different looks, different options and play recognition is high end. But it’s all because we’re shooting the puck and things are happening.”