There’s been a few complaints over the Chicago Blackhawks‘ penalty kill in recent weeks. In recent games, the PK has started to get a little better, but they’re still giving up goals. However, the other side of the coin is much different. The Blackhawks’ power play wasn’t much of a difference during the 2013 Stanley Cup run. But things have reversed this season with the power play dominating and the penalty kill struggling.
The numbers tell the story. They have had a power play goal in each of the last 10 games, and an average of 24.6 percent power play. Compare that to last year’s 11.4 percentage in the playoffs. Yeah, they’ve definitely improved. And again, it’s the reverse for their penalty kill, which was phenomenal in the 2013 season. There may be a pattern here. But does this mean they’ll score every power play?
Patrick Sharp doesn’t think so, telling the media, “No, never.” And then adding, “You guys know that special teams — power play, penalty kill — they run hot and cold. Right now, we seem to move it around pretty good, both units, and the pucks are going in. It’s been a key to our success the last little while, but we want to make sure we remember what makes us successful.”
When watching tape of Blackhawks power plays during the 2013 season and playoffs, one could definitely see a problem. The Hawks would pass the puck around, trying to look cute instead of peppering the goal. It would get frustrating watching them pass the puck from one end of the ice to the other while there was a perfectly good shooting lane. In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blackhawks didn’t even score on the PP until the third period of Game 4. This year, however, the Blackhawks have been mightily aggressive, shooting at any chance they’ve gotten and it’s paid dividends.
They’ve fired off an average of 1.51 shots per power play, which is second behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the league with 1.64 shots per power play. Perhaps a little more familiarity between the PP crew and the addition of the pesky Andrew Shaw might be helping.
The Hawks will still have to clean up their penalty kill. But if they can score like madmen on the power play like they did against the Nashville Predators, it could be a decent trade-off. They will still have to find the right balance if they want to go deep in the playoffs, but until then, it’s nice to see their power play be successful.