The Chicago Blackhawks‘ special teams have been up and down this season. Last calendar year, it was the penalty kill that was the problem, while the power play was scoring left and right. This calendar year, the situation has reversed. The penalty kill is among the top PK units in the league, while the power play has dried up.
There’s no “need” for the power play in the playoffs. After all, the Hawks did win the Stanley Cup last year with an atrocious power play, but even that came in handy when necessary. This year’s power play has had moments of brilliance. It was a big reason why they defeated the St. Louis Blues last week. The problem is, when multiple media sources say that their power play struggles are hurting them, it’s a good bet they’ve got a problem.
During the first two-thirds of the season, the Hawks’ power play was fantastic. They scored in 21 of 92 attempts, ranking third at 22.8 percent. The stats have changed ever since the Olympic break, which seems to be the source of many of their other issues, as the unit has gone 5-for-41 for 12.2 percent.
The power play is certainly a problem as it could have helped them against the Nashville Predators recently. Not only have the Predators had the Hawks’ number, they’ve stifled their high-powered offense. The Hawks had a chance with a four-minute power play, but nothing came of it in the frustrating 2-0 loss. Had they been able to score on the power play, it may have been different.
It hurts, of course, to not have Patrick Kane. But the power play was struggling before Kane was injured. So whatever problems the power play is having, it’s not Kane related. Whatever the problem is, it will have to be fixed. With several players injured, the Hawks need just about every opportunity to score, and the power play seems to be it.
Again, success on the power play isn’t exactly necessary for success in the playoffs, but it is hurting the Blackhawks in the final stretches of the regular season. Head coach Joel Quenneville has a few bugs to work out in that aspect of the Blackhawks’ game. Even if they can score in the playoffs, the regular season is still going on. It needs to get fixed.