Chicago Blackhawks’ Powerplay Woes A Variation On A Theme

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mark Letestu
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 19: Mark Letestu /

The Chicago Blackhawks’ powerplay was still unproductive in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday

While the Chicago Blackawks managed to reduce committing penalties in Thursday’s overtime defeat against Edmonton, their powerplay still went 0 for 5, and lack of motion was the recurring theme.  Coach Joel Quenneville commented after the game:

There were signs of improvement as zone entries were more direct, with less of the pusher-back option.  But once again, there was a lot of standing around, as the puck carrier did not play a 2-on-1 game with the defender to force breakdowns in coverage.

The hybrid powerplay structure depends upon getting shots through from the blue line, but Edmonton managed to block a majority of those shots.  The point men need to make better decisions with the puck.  The worst case came with Brent Seabrook simply dumping the puck into a vacant area, resulting in a mad scramble and the wasting of 20 seconds.

The ‘Hawks even committed the cardinal sin by not converting on either end of a two-man advantage.  Once again, a team with so much high-end skill should produce in these situations.

Observations from the latest struggle

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With juggling combinations, the ‘Hawks finally put together a sustained powerplay attack with a unit of Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews, Richard Panik, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.  Kane dinged one quality shot off the crossbar in that sequence.

Another recurring theme was missed opportunities right in front of the net.  Loose pucks sitting right in the crease were just out of reach.  This may be cause for some drills in practice with net-front battles.

Here are some other observations on the power play from the game:

  • Saad is a beast in winning battles along the boards.  He is effectively replacing the element lost with Marian Hossa’s absence.
  • Kane is the team’s best offensive weapon anytime, and especially on the powerplay.  He may find himself playing with both units.
  • If the ‘Hawks are using the 1-3-1 at all, it’s a very poor version of it. The two wings and high slot are never in line with each other.
  •  An APB is needed for that guy who will play “bad goalie” in front of the net.
  • The high-end skill of the powerplay members seems better suited to the fast-paced transition game, rather than the slowed-down, “half-court” game.  This is noticeable when they play with an empty net and just crash the offensive zone at full speed.

For you advanced stats enthusiasts, check out Hockey Reference and go to the skater time on ice statistics to check if what you’re seeing on the ice is corroborated by data.  As always, one item that can’t be measured is the will to win.  The ‘Hawks showed more energy than they did against St. Louis, but as Coach Q likes to say, we’re “looking for more.”

Let’s see if they start putting things together in the desert tonight, as they face the Arizona Coyotes.  Let’s. Go. ‘Hawks!