Little advantage for Blackhawks on power play

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Little advantage for Blackhawks on power play

The power play, the man advantage: either way you say it, its the chance for a team to gain an edge on its opponent by taking, well, advantage of it.

But the Blackhawks power play this season has shown anything but power. Its been anywhere from so-so to downright anemic. And on Sunday night, in a big Central Division tilt against Nashville, it was completely invisible.

Four power plays, four opportunities to hurt the Predators, and the Blackhawks couldnt even record a shot on goal on any of them. They couldnt win opening faceoffs on them, could barely get into the Predators zone on them and definitely couldnt get any opportunities on them. It was a tough night for a lot of reasons, but the Blackhawks futility on the power play made it even tougher.

Were trying to find answers for it, especially at this time of year. Its a big part of the game, Patrick Kane said on Monday. It couldve gotten us back into the game last night.

The Blackhawks power play is currently 23rd in the league, scoring just 15.1 percent of the time. It would seem theyre the only solid NHL team thats struggling with it, but thats hardly the case. The Pacific-leading (at the moment) Dallas Stars are ranked 28th (14.5 percent) and the Eastern Conference-best New York Rangers are 29th (also at 14.5 percent).

But the Blackhawks arent worried about those other teams. This is about them. Outside of a 2-for-2 performance against Columbus, the Blackhawks are 0 for 14 on the power play in four of their last five games:

vs. DAL: 0 for 4

vs. WSH: 0 for 1

vs. CBJ: 2 for 2

vs. VAN: 0 for 5

vs. NSH: 0 for 4

Other than Sundays game, the Blackhawks have been fortunate: their lack of power-play prowess hasnt cost them lately. Still, special teams are huge, especially come playoff time, and the Blackhawks want to make their advantage advantageous again.

It can be a huge factor for you every game, especially in the playoffs. Thats something were working on to improve on, Patrick Sharp said. Hopefully we score some big goals down the stretch.

The Blackhawks would love to get some late-season success on the power play. Their 5 on 5 scoring fueled them lately when their advantage let them down. But were getting to that time of the season when all parts of the game need to be clicking. The power play needs to find its power again.

Every year is different. Some teams go through the playoffs and excel in certain areas, but you need special teams to be successful to win, coach Joel Quenneville said. Were not waiting for the playoffs to get a power play going. We need to get it better now. We need more consistency, whether were scoring or not, and not lose momentum off it.

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Blackhawks: Abbott happy to be back after season in Sweden

Spencer Abbott enjoyed his short stint in Rockford, which came after he was acquired by the Blackhawks in February 2015. At the time, he thought staying here was his most likely plan.

Then he got an offer Frölunda in Sweden.

“I thought, ‘why not give it a shot? Maybe it’ll be a good experience and bring it back with me,’” said Abbott on Monday. “It was worth it, for sure. I have no regrets.”

Abbott, who’s back with the Blackhawks, had never been to Europe prior to getting that Frölunda offer. But his first trip across the pond was a good one as Abbott was part of Frölunda’s run to its Swedish and Champions hockey league titles. Abbott had 14 goals and 21 assists in 51 regular-season games. Abbott got plenty out of the games, but not nearly as much as he did in the team’s training camp.

“The first month and a half you’re over there, you’re there from 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.] every day. I think over here there’s a rule against being here for more than 3-4 hours, but not over there. It’s like a 9-5 job for a month and a half, a lot of working out, a lot of bike riding. So for me, that was good because I had never been in that kind of shape before,” said Abbott, who added he’s trying to incorporate some of that into his routine here. “Training camps here are hard but they’re just different over there. There’s a lot of ice, bigger ice [overseas], so they really condition you. So my conditioning may be a bit better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]​

As much as Abbott loved his time in Sweden, he ultimately wanted to be back in the NHL. So when the Blackhawks offered him a one-year deal, he jumped at it. He’s gotten off to a good start this training camp, scoring a few goals in the team’s early scrimmages.

“I wasn’t sure how it would play out, to be honest. I’m 28 and pretty early in the summer they were showing interest,” Abbott said. “This is one for the places I really wanted to come, because I did l really like the organization when I was here for that brief period of time. Now I get the full effect as long as they’ll have me. It’s such a good organization.”

Abbott probably could have kept playing overseas but he wanted another chance in the NHL. He’s happy it’s once again coming in the Blackhawks’ organization.

“It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to play hockey nowadays in Europe. There are tons of leagues over there. But it didn’t interest me,” he said. “I wanted to come back and give it one more shot.”

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Duncan Keith was already deemed unlikely to play in many, if any, Blackhawks preseason games, when training camp opened. As of now, it doesn’t look like he’ll be in the first few.

Keith will probably not play in the Blackhawks’ first four preseason games, assistant coach Kevin Dineen said following Monday’s training camp sessions. As for whether or not Keith will play in any, that’s still up in the air.

“That’s a question that Dunc and the medical staff, Stan [Bowman], Joel [Quenneville], we’ll all get to that. I wouldn’t foresee him certainly in these first four games. I would say that’s not going to happen,” Dineen said. “We’ll let him keep progressing on his timetable that he’s on now.”

Keith has been participating in one practice each day but has not been in any of the scrimmages. Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith has asked to skate in the team’s second practice each day – each session is about 20-25 minutes – but the Blackhawks have told him no. As of now, both Dineen and Kitchen figure Keith will be ready for the regular-season opener but the Blackhawks will continue to be prudent with him.

“He’s out there wheeling around, doing well,” Dineen said. “We had a good chat with him today. He feels like he has a lot of jump but not a lot of stamina right now. We’ll continue the way we’ve handled it so far. We’ll keep moving forward that way.”

Players returning soon

Patrick Kane, who was at the United Center on Monday afternoon, will skate with the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Defenseman Michal Kempny will also join Tuesday’s sessions. Dineen said Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are expected to join the Blackhawks on Friday.

Neither Kane nor Kempny are expected to play Wednesday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]​

Pokka is back

Defenseman Ville Pokka, who played for Team Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, skated with the Blackhawks on Monday.

“Anybody coming back from Toronto over the last two weeks is going to have a heck of a lot of confidence,” Dineen said. “A young kid like that getting the chance to represent his country on the international stage is a great honor and a pick-me-up heading into training camp and the season.”

First cuts made

The Blackhawks made their first round of cuts on Monday, sending Radovan Bondra, John Dahlstrom, Nathan Noel and Roy Radke to their respective junior teams. The active roster is now at 57 players.