Progress. It’s something everyone wants to see in the job he or she does, be it overall or on one particular faction of it.
The Chicago Blackhawks hope they’ve gotten that from their penalty kill after Sunday night’s 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. And they’re hoping they can keep progressing instead of regressing, which is what they did during their three-game winless streak.
“It’s almost to the point where we can talk about the positives about it,” coach Joel Quenneville said on Sunday. “Hopefully we can start trending in the right direction.”
We talked the other day that it’s too easy to say the Blackhawks’ kill went by the wayside with Michael Frolik’s trade to Winnipeg. Sure, they miss Frolik on the kill. But as Marcus Kruger said, the personnel remaining is certainly good enough to do the job.
“Obviously we had some great chemistry on the PK but we had good enough players here to get it to work,” Kruger said prior to Sunday’s game. “It’s frustrating not to be able to do as well with it, but I know we can. We need to get back at it.”
[MORE: Blackhawks recall Kent Simpson, place Bryan Bickell on IR]
Now, we know what you’re probably thinking: the Blackhawks had this great penalty-killing night against one lousy power play. The Panthers are struggling in a lot of categories including the power play, which is ranked 29th in the league. But the Blackhawks’ kill has known few exceptions to its go-ahead-and-score rule this season; they’ve allowed a lot of goals to a lot of teams.
So, again, they’ll take the progress that came from Sunday night.
Antti Raanta, who faced a Panthers power play not long after relieving Corey Crawford on Sunday night, said the Blackhawks made some good adjustments.
“I saw almost every puck from the blue line. Guys were blocking shots and a couple times I lost the puck, guys were cleaning up. That’s a good thing,” Raanta said. “We keep on that, we’re not letting any PK goals anymore.”
The Blackhawks’ penalty kill is the work in progress their power play was for 2012-13. They need the penalty kill to work more than they needed the power play, as evidenced by the 2013 result. Sunday night’s performance wasn’t a big sample, but it was still a successful one. And the Blackhawks will take it.