Blackhawks searching to solve penalty-killing problems

Blackhawks searching to solve penalty-killing problems
May 27, 2014, 6:45 pm
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Jake Muzzin came through the slot unscathed, scoring on the Los Angeles Kings’ first power play, an abbreviated one at that, on Monday night.

It played out similarly to another Kings power-play goal the Blackhawks gave up earlier in the season, and that’s why it frustrated coach Joel Quenneville all the more.

“Coming down the gut we’ve got to go out to that guy,” he said. “I think that was the tough part about it. We just saw that one, and they came back with another one. I think that was a defendable play. But they got some looks here, and we’ve got to recognize the chance when there’s a chance to be aggressive and make it a little more disruptive for them when there’s a chance to pressure.”

Be aggressive ...

That was the chief complaint on the Blackhawks’ power play when the regular season began, when they were hesitant on the kill. They’ve been looking like that lately, as they’ve surrendered five power-play goals to the Kings and, in great part because of that, teeter on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks will try to avoid that on Wednesday night when they host the Kings in Game 5 at the United Center.

[MORE: Facing elimination, Blackhawks focusing just on Game 5]

The Blackhawks knew they were going to have their hands full with the Kings entering this series. That goes for the Kings’ power play, too, which was already clicking nicely. But the penalty-kill woes have been alarming. Players know they have to be better as a penalty-killing unit and individually.

“I have to be better. I was on for both of those (power-play) goals,” Brent Seabrook said on Tuesday. “I have to be better in those situations to help out (Corey Crawford), help everyone on the ice.”

The Blackhawks have to be better in all facets, for certain. The Kings have been tremendous in exploiting every weakness, taking advantage of every bounce, be it ones they earned or the ones the Blackhawks surrendered. But the penalty kill has been the Blackhawks’ Achilles’ heel. It needs to be better. If it isn’t, the Blackhawks will be hitting the handshake line sooner than they’d like.

“We have to get the job done. That’s a big part of the series,” Seabrook said. “We haven’t been scoring on the power play so we want to try to keep the goals against down, and it seems like they’ve got a good pace on their power play. So we have to find a way to be better on that.”