Apr 15, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period against the Nashville Predators in game one of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Faceoffs. Just faceoffs. This may not be an adjustment you can draw up on a white board at practice and try to employ during a game. But the ’Hawks cannot continue to be as ineffective at the dot as they were Wednesday. The ’Hawks have talented forwards and defensemen who can flip play after a lost draw, but winning the draws in the first place makes pushing play a lot easier. The most sobering statistic from Wednesday’s action is in the powerplay faceoffs. While the ’Hawks had a promising night with the man-advantage, they won a single draw on the powerplay in more than 80 minutes. Their success rate was 8 percent. The Blackhawk Up writers could combine to win more than one of 12 faceoffs. The ’Hawks were also dominated in the neutral zone all night, securing five of 20 draws. In fact, the ’Hawks weren’t better than 50 percent on draws in any zone, and Brad Richards was the only forward better than 39 percent on faceoffs (he finished with a nice 56 percent clip).
So, how do the ’Hawks improve here? An easy answer is inserting Antoine Vermette and his 55 percent season success rate while moving Shaw to a wing. However, Q has no interest in changing his lineup, so we’ll rule that out. The centers could just have a better night in Game 2, since Toews, Shaw and Marcus Kruger were all well below their season averages. But it wouldn’t hurt for one of the other two forwards on each draw to jump in the scrum and help drag the puck back to the ’Hawks side. Chicago can obviously overcome this issue to create goals, but it would be highly beneficial for the ’Hawks to gain control of the puck immediately off draws in order to prevent Nashville scoring chances and create some of their own.
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