One of the fatal flaws for the 2011-2012 Chicago Blackhawks was there inability to score on the power play and giving up too many goals on the penalty kill. While the big stars Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews have been off to a hot start offensively the real secret of the Blackhawks 6-0-1 start has been special teams.
Last season the power play was a dreadful 15.2% on the power play going 42-277 which ranked 26th in the NHL. For a team that is loaded with talent offensively the power play was unsuccessful at best. When asked on the Minnesota vs Hawks telecast what the difference in the power play was so far this season Eddie Olczyk stated puck retrieval as the biggest difference in the production. The biggest difference to me is that there at least appears to be a plan of attack and that all five skaters are on the same page without one player trying to crack all four players this year. The Hawks power play currently sits 10th in the NHL posting goose eggs on the power play against Detroit and Minnesota with 7 goals in 29 attempts for a 24.1%. Yes having the stars play like stars make every aspect of offense easier, but having a master plan makes it special. My one question would be why Andrew Shaw has been on the first power play unit the last few games.
The real crown jewel of special teams has been the penalty kill. Entering the Vancouver grudge match tonight the Blackhawks have given up only one power play goal in 27 attempts which is #1 in the NHL. With 10 of their first 12 games on the road, being able to negate every single power play by the opponents in their arena has been key to the fast start. One of the stars of the penalty kill has been Michael Frolik. Using his speed and skill has been a big lift to go along the usual suspects of Hawks players on the penalty kill. The Hawks next five games are on the road and their continued success on the penalty kill along with Corey Crawford solidifying the goalie position will be a key to how successful the road trip will be for the Hawks.
What a change from 26th and 27th last season to 10th and 1st this year. The special teams have been more special this season so let’s keep it up for the next 41 games!
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