The Chicago Blackhawks will need to put the special back in special teams, if they are to have a successful 2019-20 season.
The Chicago Blackhawks had one of the best power plays through the second half of the season. They finished with the 15th best power play in the NHL, after a rough start. The ‘Hawks power play was led by players like Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Erik Gustafsson.
However, if they want their percentage to rise, they need another set of players to step up and rise to the occasion.
There are only good effects of having two good power play lines. The benefits of circulating two successful power play units will result in more goals for the Blackhawks PP.
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Last season, when the Kane power play unit usually played about a minute to a minute and a half shift on the power play. This left the second unit with under a minute to try to make something happen. At times, the first unit stayed on the ice for the entire man advantage.
Having two successful units will only make the Blackhawks a better team. If the Blackhawks could add another line of talented players, with a different playing style than the PP1 unit, they will keep the defense guessing night in and night out.
When you watch cross-ice passes from Kane to DeBrincat night in and night out for power play goals, opposing teams start picking up on it.
The Blackhawks need to understand that although the one timers are a great way to get a big goal, they can be easily stopped and should not be the only plan of attack on the power play.
If the ‘Hawks want to keep opposing teams guessing, they need to have another line with a different mentality.
Put Andrew Shaw in front of the net with players like Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik on the wings. That unit could also have Brent Seabrook and Olli Maatta at the point trying to create slap shots from the point.
The second power play unit needs to be about getting the puck to the net fast, and often, while trying to break down the defense.
Speed will be important. Having just under a minute to score a goal will require a sense of urgency. Andrew Shaw will be someone to watch on that line, unless they move him to the first power play unit to change things up.
The second power play unit will need some defenseman back to help “quarterback” the unit.
Maybe, if Adam Boqvist does well at the prospect tournament, he could find himself on the power play.
Of course, the more likely options will be Olli Maatta and Brent Seabrook. Hopefully, no one gets behind them for a breakaway.
Neither Maatta or Seabrook are the fastest defenseman in the NHL, but they do have booming slap shots which may create opportunities in front of the net.
Unlike the ‘Hawks top power play unit, the second unit will need two defenseman because of the style they play.
To me, Andrew Shaw would be the center on the second power play unit. I like him in the face-off dot for the power play, and think he could get some wins. Shaw did have a 47.1 face-off percentage last season.
On Shaw’s wings, I would put Brandon Saad with Dominik Kubalik or Alexander Nylander, depending on how training camp goes.
In my opinion, Brandon Saad is the best power forward the Blackhawks have. He is someone who can drive to the net like no other.
Saad’s skill set will come in handy, considering the second unit might be thrown onto the ice with under a minute left on the power play.
I also think whoever performs better between Kubalik and Nylander will earn a power play spot.
Both are talented snipers and could help generate goals. However, having seen neither player yet, it might still be too soon to call.
Be brave and stay strong. The NHL season is almost here.