Blackhawks remain confident in offense
May, 21, 2013
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Scoring has rarely been an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
The Blackhawks ranked second in the league with 149 goals for (3.10 goals per game) and weren't shut out during the regular season. Their offensive ways continued in the first round of the playoffs as they averaged 3.4 goals in five games against the Minnesota Wild.
But after opening the Western Conference semifinal series with a four-goal output against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1, the Blackhawks' production has been slowed to a trickle in the past two games. They scored just once in Game 2 and again in Game 3 -- both resulting in losses -- and they were held to a total of two goals in a two-game span for the first time all season.
The Blackhawks acknowledged their slump on Tuesday, but they said they haven't lost faith in their ability to score.
"We'd like to score goals, no question about it," said Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who has scored a team-high six playoff goals this season. "I don't think there's any worry or panic in our locker room. We've created a few chances. Plenty of opportunities out there, a couple of posts. Goals are going to come when you least expect them, but we're working for them and creating offensively."
The Blackhawks didn't manufacture a lot of chances in Game 2 with just 20 shots on goal in a 4-1 loss. In Game 3, they improved on the quantity of their shots with 40 in Monday's 3-1 loss, but they still weren't pleased with the quality of them. They're now looking to get more shots closer to the net.
"They're extremely great defensively," Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa said. "They're playing well in their zone, neutral zone, and we have to find a way to get inside."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville toyed with his lines during Game 3 and found an offensive spark by switching Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp. Saad moved to the second line and skated with Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane, and Sharp was moved with Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
Kane scored the Blackhawks' lone goal in Game 3, and the two lines combined for 22 shots on goal. Toews, who has yet to score in the playoffs, took a game-high seven shots on goal.
"I thought we created something there," Hossa said. "Sharpie is one of the top scorers in the league. Just try to give him the puck, we try to find each other, keep simple, shoot and go to the net. I thought having him little things changed and having [Saad] on the other line, something changed, too."
Quenneville left open the possibility of moving players around again in Game 4.
"We'll look at our lines as we go along whether we fluctuate in games or going into games, but loosen things up maybe," Quenneville said. "Our team game, we didn't give up a whole lot [Monday.] We didn't generate a ton, but we certainly had more offensive zone time."
With back-to-back losses and their recent lack of goals, the Blackhawks' power play has also been put under the microscope again. The
Blackhawks have scored three power-play goals on 22 chances in the playoffs and are 1-for-9 on the power play in the Red Wings' series.
Hossa said that much change if they want to get back into the series.
"We need the power play to get some goals," Hossa said. "That's for sure to help the series to get into our advantage. I felt the first power play [in Game 3] we were moving the puck well. We were finding a way for a couple good shots. Another few [power plays,] it was tough to get in. But I think when we got in, we had some good looks. But we have to find a way to put the puck in the net."