Feb. 25 , 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) and Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) and left wing Viktor Stalberg (25) battle as they skate down ice after the puck during the first period of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
It doesn’t come as a surprise that coach Q recently when meeting the media revealed that the ailing power play will be changed in several ways.
New assistant coach Jaime Kompon will be in charge of getting this headache back on track. Welcome to the Blackhawks. This is truly baptism under fire. For those that will recall last year everyone took a turn with this enigma and no one did quit figure it out.
The Blackhawks ranked 26th in the NHL last year on the power play which they would agree is not acceptable if you want to become a championship team. This makes it imperative that this year they get this right off the bat in a compressed season.
There is no secret to power plays. They can be summed up with one word. What was it that Master Yoda tried to drill into Luke Skywalker when training him to master the force? CONTROL! CONTROL! YOU MUST LEARN CONTROL! The same is true of power plays. You must maintain control in the opposition’s zone. The Blackhawks last year had problems with sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Patience is also a requirement for successful power plays. Crisp passing in the zone which the Hawks also struggled with due to trying to hurry plays is where they could exercise some patience and it would improve their precision.
Traffic in front of the goalies also was absent for the most part. The other area they really struggled with was zone entry which can be remedied with great puck handling or speed into the zone. Whew was it any surprise that they were as low as they were as the Blackhawks didn’t do much right.
Coach Joel Quenneville when addressing the media also said he would be giving Viktor Stalberg a look on the power play. Why not? Stalberg definitely has the speed and he has a deceptive shot. Also by using Stalberg it will give the Hawks a different look which keeps the opposition guessing.
He could be used in front of the goalie for greasy goals. Stalberg is a big body with his 6’3” frame he could make a nice screen with shots coming from the point or the half walls and provide deflections. Stalberg has offensive skills that we saw last year with his 22 goals yes a lot came against the lowely Columbus Blue Jackets but he still should be given the opportunity it could not hurt the power play.
Stalberg has a pretty accurate shot which is necessary with everyone jammed in the offensive zone. Stalberg actually had a higher shot percentage than Patrick Kane.
He also stated Andrew Shaw would be given an opportunity as well on the power play given his tenacity and good hand eye skills this is not surprising at all. Shaw we know doesn’t mind getting in the greasy areas and getting a little filthy which the Hawks power play could use.
I would also venture to bet that Dave Bolland, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad and even Bryan Bickell might see turns on the power play. I’d give them a whirl for different reasons.
Dave Bolland has one of the most accurate shots. His shot percentage is very high and he does have very good instincts in the dirty areas.
Bickell, Hayes and Saad are big bodies, which like Stalberg could be used effectively on screens. We also have seen that Bickell has a deceptive snapshot and wristers. Saad has good hockey IQ and some soft hands as well.
The Hawks will be practicing tomorrow on their power play and will have a scrimmage with the Rockford Icehogs. Not sure if this is open to the public or not.
Jaime Kompon has his plate full getting this power play right but he does have tools at his disposal. It will also be interesting to see if besides personnel changes a new strategy and schemes are employed. Creativity and ingenuity could be key.
What or who would you like to see the Blackhawks do to improve the power play?
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