Powerless: Hawks can’t capitalize on power play
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 23, 2013 10:46PM
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) stops a shot by Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) during the first period in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Detroit, Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Updated: May 24, 2013 10:06AM
DETROIT — Brandon Saad won the faceoff after Niklas Kron-wall went to the penalty box in the first period. But that was about the last good thing that happened on the Blackhawks’ power play Thursday night.
Eight seconds later, Pavel Dats-yuk stole the puck, the Red Wings cleared and sent the Blackhawks into a familiar man-advantage position — retrieving the puck and starting all over again.
It was that kind of night for the power play, which is quickly becoming emblematic of this entire, frustrating series — the harder the Hawks try, the worse they get. The Hawks not only were shut out on three power-play opportunities in a 2-0 loss in Game 4, but they arguably had their three worst power plays of the postseason. The Hawks had one shot on goal for the night with the extra man.
‘‘We’ve got to find a way to sustain some momentum and get some pucks to the net. Raise our intensity level,’’ forward Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘We’ve got to outwork their four guys, and right now we’re not doing that. We’re not coming up with a whole lot on the power play.’’
Since scoring on their first power-play opportunity in Game 1, the Hawks are 0-for-11 on the power play.
‘‘I don’t know what you want me to say,’’ defenseman Duncan Keith said when asked about the power play. ‘‘Same thing every time. It’s not good.’’
But in Game 4, they weren’t even generating momentum from their unsuccessful power plays.
‘‘I don’t know if it lost momentum in the game, but we obviously could have used something off it,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘The one [in the third period] wasn’t very good, and I thought there wasn’t even enough time to measure momentum. Their penalty killers — you’ve got to commend them on the job they’ve done.’’
One factor that can no longer be ignored is the excellence of Red Wings’ goaltender Jimmy Howard, who made that lead stand up. Since allowing three goals in Game 1, Howard has been virtually impregnable, stopping 86 of 88 shots (.977 save percentage).
‘‘He’s playing good,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘He made a couple of big saves there. We hit a few posts. We knew that he’s a good goaltender before this series, and nothing’s really changed since. But to get shutout in the playoffs — we have to find a way to generate some goals.’’