May 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) carries the puck away from Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) during the first period in game five of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
We all know the Blackhawks are among the league’s elite when it comes to five on five scoring, but in order to be an all around great team the Blackhawks need to be able to capitalize on the power-play and kill off penalties that come their way. In past years the Hawks have possessed either a great power-play or a great penalty kill, but never both. Last year the Hawks power play was near the top of the league, but for most of the season their penalty kill was near the bottom. The year before that the Hawks penalty kill was top three in the league, while their power-play was absolutely dismal, yet they managed to win a Stanley Cup. It is rare that a team possesses an effective power-play as well as an effective penalty kill, and team’s that have both are always a league juggernaut and a definite Stanley Cup contender.
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On paper the Hawks power-play should be one of the best in the league. With guys like Kane, Toews, Sharp, Saad, Hossa, and many more the power-play should be the most feared in the league. Not to mention the addition of Kevin Dineen behind the bench, who is a power-play guru, should make the Hawks even more dangerous. With the addition of Brad Richards and the continuing maturation of guys like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw the Hawks power-play should be among the best in the league for the upcoming season. My guess would be that the power-play finish as high as third in the league, but no worse than tenth.
The penalty kill is another story for the Hawks. Luckily as the season progressed last year the penalty kill began to improve from its pitiful beginnings to finish near the middle of the league. The Hawks will need to find someone to fill the shoes of Michal Handzus this season. You may think that won’t be hard to do, but Handzus was a key penalty killer last season. Handzus, although it appeared he was skating in humus at some points, was never afraid to sacrifice his body to block a shot and always seemed to be in the shooting lanes. It would be advantageous for the Hawks to be able to put someone out on the ice for the penalty kill other than stars like Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa which was a penalty killing duo at points last season. If the Hawks don’t find a killer combination, pun intended, then the penalty kill will be just as bad as last year. My prediction for the Hawks penalty kill is that they could finish within the top ten in the league, but they could also finish in the bottom five, where the spent a good portion of last season.
Thanks for reading as always, and have no fear the hockey season is almost here. Just five more days until training camp kicks off in South Bend and twenty-five games until the season starts in Dallas, which I will be so luckily attending. I hope you enjoyed the article and don’t forget to follow Blackhawkup on twitter or on facebook.