No power in Blackhawks’ power play
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2013 10:20PM
In four minutes and 43 seconds of power-play time in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks mostly stood around and waited for something to happen. Nothing did.
Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa passed the puck back and forth from point to point, occasionally sending it in deep to Patrick Sharp. A five-on-three for 77 seconds? No shots on goal. Bruins penalty-killer extraordinaire Zdeno Chara in the box? Nothing.
Hawks fans — frustrated with a power play that has come up empty 12 consecutive times and has only one goal in its last 25 chances — implored Keith and Hossa to “SHOOOOOOOT!” every time the puck hit their sticks. And, certainly, putting a puck or two on net would help matters.
But it’s not quite as simple as firing away. Sometimes, there’s nothing to shoot at.
“As the playoffs move on, you do so much homework on the other team’s power play,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think it’s a normal trend, has absolutely nothing to do with the team not being able to score. [It’s more] the penalty kill doing a great job.”
The question is, just how important is the power play, anyway? The Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup with a dreadful power play (11.4 percent). The Kings won last season scoring at a meager 12.8 percent clip.
And this year, both teams in the Final are struggling with the man advantage — the Hawks at 13 percent, the Bruins at 16.7 percent.
“To me, it’s a normal thing,” Julien said. “Even when we played Vancouver [in the 2011 Final], they had such a good power play. [But] by the time they got to the Final, they couldn’t score, either. . . . When you play 50 minutes or so five-on-five, that should be more of a determining factor than six minutes on a power play.”
That’s not to say each team doesn’t want to improve. If not for Johnny Oduya’s shot banking in off Andrew Ference’s skate for the tying goal in the third period, special teams would’ve decided Game 1. The squandered five-on-three and the Chara penalty were followed up by Patrice Bergeron’s power-play goal.
“You’ve really got to try to keep things simple, not try to do too much out there,” point man Nick Leddy said. “We can kind of get away from that at times. But at this stage, everybody’s playing great team defense.”
It was a huge swing in the game, with the Hawks looking set to tie it 2-2, only to fall behind 3-1.
“We’re disappointed with the five-on-three,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘You want to make sure you don’t lose the momentum.”
Whether it’s great penalty kills or lousy power plays is up for debate. And recent history says it’s not as crucial as common sense suggests. But putting the puck in the net — or, in the Hawks’ case, at least on the net — with the man advantage sure couldn’t hurt in a tight series.