Coach Joel Quenneville was succinct about the Blackhawks' power play, especially that 5-on-3 opportunity that went awry in Game 1.
“Yeah, we addressed it, we looked at it,” he said. “You never know if you get another one but certainly we'll see. We weren't pleased with what went on.”
It may have been more of what did not go on during that power play. No real shots, very little movement, too much passing. The Blackhawks got away with it not working on Wednesday night, but it’s still something they want to get going, if just a little bit.
There’s been plenty of talk about the power play, especially the Blackhawks’ lack of success on it. In our round-table discussion with Pro Hockey Talk and CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty last night, the question was there again: How does a team with the firepower of the Blackhawks struggle so mightily on the man advantage?
“We've had stretches throughout the postseason where we've moved it around pretty well. Sometimes you just can't find the back of the net,” Patrick Kane said. “I think maybe another reason seems power plays are down throughout the year and in the postseason, for whatever reason. When you do get the man advantage, you're not in a complete rhythm when you get out there.”
That could be, but it didn’t stop the Bruins from scoring on their first power play in Game 1, which didn’t come until the third period. The Blackhawks slammed the door shut on the Bruins, however, in the first and second overtimes, when the Blackhawks took too-many-men penalties.
“It is a combination of things. Obviously we want to get the puck at the net as quickly and hard as we can, but they’ve got a good penalty kill too,” Duncan Keith said. “There’s a lot of talk about the power play. It’s been tough to score on not just for us but for others, too. I think just having that (right) mindset going in can help, going in ahead of time knowing you have to throw pucks to the net.”
That was the problem with the Blackhawks’ power play the other night: The Bruins might have a good penalty kill, but the Blackhawks barely challenged it, passing more than shooting.
Speaking of shooting, however, let’s shoot down one misconception: that you need a good power play to win a Cup in the first place. As Kane has pointed out, the Blackhawks’ power play was their bread and butter during the 2010 Stanley Cup run -– it was fifth overall that postseason. But for the last two Cup winners, it hasn’t been a factor. The Los Angeles Kings’ power play in last year’s Cup run was ranked 12th out of the 16 playoff teams. Boston’s was 14th in 2011, their Cup season.
Even if the Blackhawks don’t get a goal on it, though, they need to sustain momentum. Those shot-less power plays sap their edge, and the energy shifts to the successful killers. The Blackhawks would love for this power play to wake up. They fired away in even-strength situations on Wednesday night; they need to do the same on the advantage.
“Yeah, for whatever reason, the past two teams to win, even us and Boston this year, haven't had great power plays,” Kane said. “It’s something we want to improve and feel we can help our game even more if we can keep it going.”