Ah, the Blackhawks power play: its been the source of angst for the teams fans and a source of few goals for the team itself. The advantage has been anemic for most of the season, and different combinations, schemes and coaches havent really found a solution for it.
But now its the postseason, when the spotlight on special teams becomes glaring. The Blackhawks couldve used power-play production in several games. Now, they need it.
The Blackhawks power play enters the postseason scoring just 15.1 percent of the time, 26th in the league. Thats the second-worst percentage of any team in the playoffs; Phoenix is worse at 13.6 percent (29th). So for the past two days the Blackhawks have gone with two new power-play units.
Jonathan Toews, who should be back Thursday after missing 22 games with a concussion, was on the top unit with Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Brunette make up the second group.
You have high-end talent on one. And with the other unit we should have traffic around the net, coach Joel Quenneville said. If you look at the collection of the guys, we should be able to make plays and create some offense off it.
If they do, the Blackhawks will happily reverse a trend thats gone on all season. Even when Toews was healthy, the power play struggled. They were mired in that 0-for run with him, finally ending it in their second game without Toews in Anaheim, breaking an 0-for-39 drought.
So theyll try these combos in the hopes of finding an answer. Each unit has someone whos strong at, and able to win, faceoffs Toews on the first and Kruger on the second. The inability to win those on a consistent basis didnt help matters, either. Nor did the Blackhawks shots or lack thereof on goal. There was a stretch where the Blackhawks mustered no shots on several consecutive power plays. The Blackhawks are going to have to create, crash and shoot to dent the Phoenix penalty kill, which is No. 8 in the league.
The regular season is over. The Blackhawks hope their power play woes are, too.
Were going to need it, Quenneville said. Sometimes one goal can be the difference. We hope that our power play can be effective.