Shots, shots, shots.
The number of shots is one thing. The quality of shots is even more telling. From HockeyViz.com, here are some graphics on the ‘Hawks shots for and against in 5-on-5.
Notice that the Chicago Blackhawks get some penetration to the right of the net, but settle for a lot of shots 30 feet to 55 feet from the net. Conversely, they give up a high amount of shots right in their own doorstep.
These heat charts translate into expected goals for and expected goals against. Sean Tierney’s chart shows the ‘Hawks in the red:
The ‘Hawks continue to underachieve in offensive puck possession. If we take a look at Corsica’s Star Rating, we’ll see that after Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, there is a steep drop off.
This means that beyond these three forwards, no forwards are doing anything special. And speaking of special…
Special teams are not so special
Not only are the Chicago Blackhawks on the losing end of the deal in 5-on-5 hockey, they are even worse on the power play and the penalty kill.
Take a look at the heat charts here:
You can see that the ‘Hawks end up taking shots from the perimeter on the power play, and are pretty generous in allowing high danger shots while killing penalties.
The special teams are not getting it done.
The ‘Hawks have the 27th best power play in the league and the 22nd best penalty kill. There have been several incarnations of the power play units, and none of them have clicked.
More from Blackhawk Up
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem
On the power play, clean zone entries aren’t happening. The Chicago Blackhawks are not a good “half court” team. They rely upon speed to ignite their skill on fire. The much-too-often used delayed entry, or what Pat Foley calls the Pusher-Back Entry, forces the forwards to stand still at the blue line and wait for the eventual puck carrier to enter the zone.
It’s hard to create speed when you’re standing still. It’s really not rocket science in creating options for effective zone entries. Take a look at the following video. The puck carrier owns the center of the ice and exploits what is given to him.
The ‘Hawks regularly enter the zone on the wings and pin themselves along the boards, thus stifling any creativity with the puck.
We can also revisit a video I shared last year about this very same topic, from Jeremy Weiss. Here, he shows some simple options for the defensive zone break out and offensive zone entry.
Again, it’s not rocket science, but the ‘Hawks just can’t seem to figure this out.
The next chart of power-play skaters network shows that there have been various power play units. It looks like a jumbled mess, and that’s what the power play has been.
When the opposition racks up 5 penalties, United Center guests win a free Chik-Fil-A sandwich. Well, I’ve had some chicken dinners, but I can’t say “Winner winner, chicken dinner” with that deal. So what is the deal?
Even if the ‘Hawks manage to enter the offensive zone, they tend to stand like statues and look to make a perfect pass. Their version of the potent 1-3-1 overload is just plain awful. The ‘Hawks remind me of the Chicago Bears’ Devin Hester.
He was a masterful free-lance runner who excited us with dazzling kick-off and punt returns. That said, he couldn’t run a good route as a wide receiver to save his life.
So what is it, talented hockey players who can’t run set plays, or is it bad coaching?
The Chicago Blackhawks have some excellent playmakers in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Erik Gustafsson. They display their high hockey IQ in 5-on-5 ice time, however they manage to flop on the power play.
Former assistant coach Kevin Dineen ran the power play, and he had to be held accountable for the embarassing performances. Coach Q’s reluctance to replace Dineen was probably a huge factor in his firing.
The final straw for me was the Calgary game. Dineen held the whiteboard, drawing up a power play in the closing minutes with an empty net. The play was a failure and they surrendered a short-handed empty netter. Embarrassing.