0-12. Those two numbers separated by a hyphen exemplify futility regardless of the sport, but for the Chicago Blackhawks, 0-12 represents something that could make or break the defending champions as they look to defend their title.
Going backwards, the Blackhawks’ 2012 power play was the definition of ineptitude all the way through the season, with the outright failure extending into the playoffs. And although the end result of a title and an exceptional penalty kill took attention away from the issue, the Blackhawks may not be so lucky this year.
Worse than the statistical ineptitude of the Blackhawks’ power play (16.6 percent last season) is exactly how the majority of power plays looked to the teams fans. A power play goal incites a crowd more than a big hit or dirty dangle, but the Blackhawks’ power play had the opposite effect, dulling and frustrating the ravenous United Center crowd.
Where do the solutions lie for the defending champs? Well, both supporters and critics alike will have to wait. Until now, major stars such as Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith have not been able to find consistent time on the man advantage unit. Toews has not played yet, while Keith has only played in one game so far.
Lastly, we have yet to see either Bryan Bickell or Jimmy Hayes be able to park their big bodies in front of opposing netminders. Bickell is recovering from injury, but may be able to replicate the success the team found with Dustin Byfulgien in 2010 — the same success that they’ve been looking to replicate since.
Hayes is a bit of a wildcard, but as the team looks to fill its roster, Hayes could fit into a second power play unit, despite being towards the end of the bench. His 6-foot-6 frame and natural physicality would go very well on an experimental second unit led by defenseman Nick Leddy. Like Hayes, there will be many eyes on Leddy as the cramped preseason continues and the Blackhawks roster begins to take shape.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486