The power play struggles of the Chicago Blackhawks are well documented. Despite what many, who don’t watch this team as often, may think, they’re not limited to the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. Last summer, the Hawks brought in former Los Angeles Kings coach Jamie Kompon to help fix their power play. Ironically enough, he was fired during the Kings’ championship season for his inability to get their power play in the right direction.
Whatever he was doing with the Kings has certainly carried over to the Hawks, who struggled with their power play all season and have especially had trouble finding the back of the net on the man advantage during these Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the entire postseason, they’re just over 12 percent on the power play.
The Blackhawks aren’t simply failing to convert on their power play opportunities. The man advantage is supposed to build momentum for a team. The Hawks have taken what is to be expected of that situation and turned the man advantage into an advantage for opposing teams, on multiple occasions.
Against the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Semifinals, we saw the Blackhawks with a late power play in Game 4, when they needed a win. They failed to get a single shot in those two minutes and lost a crucial game. Of course, all was forgiven when they rattled off three straight wins and advanced.
When they faced the Kings in the Western Conference Finals, they weren’t in a situation where they needed the power play to come up big. But it was clear that being presented with a man advantage certainly took some momentum away from the Hawks, for whatever reason.
During these Stanley Cup Finals, the Hawks have looked absolutely miserable on the power play. They let three opportunities get away from them in Game 2, a game which would have had a different result if they were able to convert. Early in Game 3, the Boston Bruins saw more opportunities shorthanded than the Hawks did while on the power play. It’s simply baffling as to how a team with the personnel that this team has can be so incompetent when they have an extra man on the ice.
So what is that is plaguing the Hawks so bad on the man advantage? Too much passing for one. Too often do we see this team look for the extra pass when what they should be doing is firing the puck on the net. With an aggressive penalty kill like this Bruins team employs, that’s asking for trouble. Zone entries are a disaster. Dump and chase results in lost possession, when they should be skating the puck in.
If the Hawks don’t get the power play to at least the most average of levels, which would be a significant improvement from where it is now, they’re in serious trouble. This is a tight defensive Bruins team with an excellent goaltender. These power play opportunities absolutely need to be taken advantage of. If not: doom.