It’s all rolling along beautifully for the Chicago Blackhawks. With six games remaining in their regular-season schedule, they’re racking up victories much like they did to start the season.
Goaltending’s great. Penalty kill’s great. Five-on-five scoring is great. There’s just one itty bitty, teensy weensy little problem: the power play has gone AWOL again.
The Blackhawks had a pretty solid start to the power play this season. Sure, they weren’t scoring on a ton of them, but they were getting goals here and there on it. Now, it’s gone barren, much like it was all of last season. As of Tuesday the Blackhawks’ power play was ranked 21st in the NHL. For a team with as much firepower and talent as the Blackhawks have, it’s very surprising.
“I still keep saying we’re looking for production. And we’ll keep exploring (options) until it clicks,” coach Joel Quenneville said Monday, following the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory over Dallas in which they went 0 for 4 on the power play. “I didn’t like the first couple (power plays); the last two were much more efficient. When you do that, you don’t lose momentum.”
Now that’s the funny thing about the Blackhawks’ recent power-play struggles: it hasn’t come back to bite them. The Blackhawks’ last power-play goal came on March 29, when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks. Since then, they are 0 for 18 on the advantage over their last nine games. They also have an 8-0-1 record in their last nine games.
“It’s not an easy thing. We were there last year, and here we are again talking about it this year. But let’s stay positive, let’s stay with it,” Jonathan Toews said. “Some things have come up in our game that seem to be a problem that hinder us a little bit. But we find a way to improve and find a solution. And that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to keep getting better. If we focus on what we need to do and how we work together as a unit, eventually those results are going to come.”
The Blackhawks have tinkered with their power-play units. Quenneville threw out a surprising one last night, sending out Marcus Kruger, Michael Frolik –- two of their bigger penalty killers -- Michal Handzus, Nick Leddy and Michal Rozsival to start one power play. Sure, it was a surprising combination. But since the usual stuff wasn’t working, why not give it a try?
Great results haven’t come from the Blackhawks’ power play. But they’ve surged to a great record despite that power play. Special teams, however, are always a big part of the playoffs, and usually do show up in the results. The penalty kill has been stellar just about all season. The Blackhawks hope their power play gets as successful soon.
“We’re not getting the results we want, but that’s life,” Toews said. “We’ll keep working at it. We know we have a lot of skill and eventually it’ll go our way.”