Blackhawks shake up power play in time of need


Blackhawks shake up power play in time of need

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.

High School Lites Week 10 capsules and picks

High School Lites Week 10 capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 10 edition of High School Lites, coming your way Saturday night at 11 p.m. after Cubs Postseason Live. Can Maine South beat West Aurora in this terrific Class 8A opening game? Can Lyons Township upset Naperville North on CSN Friday night in Naperville? Who wins the unofficial Tyson LeBlanc Bowl when Curie takes on Oswego East? And can the T.F. South Rebels extend the coaching career of retiring head coach Tom Padjen with a win over Rock Island?

Class 8A

No. 19 Lyons Township (7-2) at No. 14 Naperville North (8-1) Friday 7 p.m.

Live broadcast on CSN, plus a live stream available on and the NBC Sports app.

EDGY's Take: Lyons Township features one of the top junior quarterbacks in the state in Ben Bryant and the Lions also have plenty of skills. Naperville North and head coach Sean Drendell will unleash its Thunder and Lightning backfield in senior RB Cross Robinson and senior RB Eric Wright and the Huskies also have a very good senior led offensive line. Biggest matchup to watch here? The Naperville North offensive line versus a very good Lyons Township defensive line.

EDGY's Pick: Naperville North 28, Lyons Township 21

No. 23 Leyden (7-2) at No. 10 Barrington (8-1) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Leyden and head coach Tom Cerasani are back in the state playoff field for the first time since 2012. The Eagles will look toward standout athlete Jalen Moore (SIU) and a strong running game to center their attack. Barrington will also run the football. They’re led by a big, strong and physical offensive line and a speedy backfield with senior RB Logan Moews and senior QB Ray Niro. Can Leyden's defense contain the Broncos’ speedy backs? Can Barrington get a handle on Moore?

EDGY's Pick: Barrington 29, Leyden 13

No. 26 Maine South (6-3) at No. 7 West Aurora (9-0) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Maine South is never shy when it comes to having its spread offense scoring points in bunches. Keep an eye out for senior QB Nick Leongas along with junior RB Fotis Kokosioulis. It also features a solid offensive line led by senior four star-ranked OL Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State). Coach Nate Eimer’s West Aurora Blackhawks feature speed on both sides of the ball. You'll be impressed with the Cross twins: senior RB/DB DaQuan Cross and senior RB/DB DaVion Cross. Can the Blackhawks defense slow down Maine South? Can the Maine South defense avoid allowing the Warriors from breaking open big plays? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 36, West Aurora 34

No. 17 Curie (8-1) at No. 16 Oswego East (8-1) Saturday 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc coached at Curie from 2007-11 and guided the Condors to the state playoffs in all five seasons. This season, Curie is led by head coach Jay McDonagh. Keep an eye out for senior RB/LB Anthony Watson. Oswego East can score points in a hurry with senior RB Ivory Kelly-Martin (Iowa). They also boast a solid defense, featuring senior DE Elijah James (Central Michigan). Can Curie win away from the city of Chicago? Can Oswego East handle the physicality from the Condors?

EDGY's Pick: Oswego East 24, Curie 19

No. 18 Lincoln-Way East (7-2) vs. No. 15 Taft (8-1) at Lane Stadium Saturday 11 a.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East will hit the road in the opening round, heading to the North Side to take on Taft, which won the Chicago Public League’s Big Shoulders conference. East is led by senior QB Jake Arthur, senior RB Nigel Muhammed and a roster of well over 100 players. Taft is led by QB Abdullah Ahmad. Also, keep an eye on senior OL/DL Adam Gago for the Eagles. Can Taft go toe to toe with Lincoln-Way East for four quarters?   

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 37, Taft 13

Class 7A

No. 24 Carmel (5-4) at No. 9 St. Charles North (8-1) Saturday 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Carmel and veteran head coach Andy Bitto has had an up-and-down season. But when the Corsairs’ option attack is clicking — led by senior QB Jeremy Strutzel and junior WB/S Zaire Barnes — look out. St. Charles North's only loss came back in Week 4 to rival St. Charles East. Can the North’s defense find the football against Carmel’s option game? Can the Corsairs defense slow down a North Stars offense led by senior QB Zach Mettetal and senior WR Griffin Hammer (Colorado State)? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Charles North 28, Carmel 24

No. 21 McHenry (6-3) at No. 12 Batavia (7-2) Saturday 1:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: McHenry is back in the state playoff field for the first time since 2007. The Warriors and first year head coach Nat Zunkle feature a passing attack led by QB Colton Klein. The defense is led by senior LB Colton Folliard. As for coach Dennis Piroon’s Batavia Bulldogs, it’s all about getting the running game in gear. Junior RB Reggie Phillips will run behind a big and physical offensive line led by senior OT Evan Day (Illinois State). Can McHenry slow down the Batavia running game? Can the Batavia defense rebound from a rough Week 9 performance and raise its game another level against McHenry?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 27, McHenry 21

Class 6A

No. 11 Rock Island (7-2) at No. 6 Thornton Fractional South (7-2) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: T.F. South veteran head coach Tom Padjen announced earlier this week that this will be his last season leading the Rebels football program, wrapping up his 40-year coaching career. The Rebels will look to extend Padjen’s final season — and they’re led by the coach’s nephew, senior QB Reis Padjen, along with senior WR Bron Hill and a very quick defense. Rock Island is led by former Lake Zurich head coach Bryan Stortz and the Rocks rely on senior QB Alek Jacobs. He has thrown for nearly 4,000 career passing yards and his main target is WR Jacob Ellis (6-foot-7, 215 pounds). So which defense can slow down the other team's passing game? 

EDGY's Pick: TF South 31, Rock Island 28

Class 5A

No. 10 Metamora (6-3) at No. 7 Kankakee (6-3) Saturday 2 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Metamora and Kankakee want to run the football and both can play strong defense. Hall of Fame head coach Pat Ryan has led the visiting Redbirds to 23 state playoff appearances. Their playmakers include RBs Jon Brunton and Ethan Hodel, while sophomore QB Thomas Hall is more than capable in the play-action passing game. Kankakee is back in the state playoff for the first time since 2009. The Kays and head coach Omar Grant will give the football to RB DeAndre Caldwell early and often. Can Metamora win on the road and avoid the turnover monster that's followed them quite a bit this season? Can the Kays win time of possession and also break open a big special teams score or two?

EDGY's Pick: Kankakee 28, Metamora 21

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below: