Mayers having success on power play

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Mayers having success on power play

ST. LOUIS Jamal Mayers didnt have a whole lot of power-play experience entering this season.

The veteran center is a solid penalty killer and a nose-to-the-grindstone type of player. But the power play? Well, having a big body in front to deflect, redirect and obstruct on the man advantage is always beneficial. And recently, Mayers has been filling that role very well.

Mayers has been on the ice for all three of the teams power-play goals in recent games, and its one more part of his game that has the Blackhawks happy they signed him last summer. For Mayers, the power-play formula is simple: win a face-off and get in the opposing goalies ways, pronto.

You just try to get in front of the net and make it difficult for the goalie to see the puck, said Mayers. Weve got enough skill guys on this team that, if you make it hard for the goalie to see, hopefully some pucks go in.

Patrick Sharp said Mayers has been a welcome addition to the power-play, which went 0 for 39 before last weekends game in Anaheim.

Its no secret that, since hes been there, weve scored a few goals, Sharp said. Hes great in the face-off circle, which is a big part of the power play every time. He goes right to the front of the net and hes an option to put it in the net as well. He brings a heck of a lot more to the team than that, too.

That includes the physical presence, which Mayers has showcased plenty throughout his career. When Jonathan Toews was getting roughed up by the Sharks in February, Mayers was the one fighting Ryan Clowe soon after.

Hes had a real good year, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes been very consistent in his role, be it at center or with energy. Game in and out, Jammers done what weve wanted.

And now that Mayers is flanked by big rookies Brandon Bollig and Jimmy Hayes, the Blackhawks have a deeper physical element again.

Its just fun to watch that from the bench sometimes and see guys play physical like that, especially when we havent had that kind of presence in our lineup the past couple of years, said Patrick Kane.

There was one play, (Detroits Justin) Abdelkader has the puck in the air and Jammer just runs him over. Its just physical plays like that that gets players like me pumped up, Kane said. Hes been great. Hes a player who deserves a lot of credit for the teams success.

That includes the recent power-play success, too.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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