- Scott Powers, Reporter
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wants his players to improve on faceoffs this season and has been actively looking for ways to make that happen.
On Thursday, Quenneville turned to one of the NHL’s greatest faceoff players, Yanic Perreault, to instruct the Blackhawks. Perreault, who is a Blackhawks development coach, spent about 20 minutes working with the team’s forwards on faceoffs.
“He’s been a good pro,” Quenneville said of Perreault. “Throughout his career, his forte was efficiency in the faceoff circle. He’s going to help us organizationally here and in Rockford and throughout the system as well. He’s a great asset to have and great resource talking with our centerman and wingers that jump into faceoffs. Whether it’s the thought process, something they can pick up, he’ll be around and working with them.
“You [hope] something can be planted in their brains whether it’s trying something in the faceoffs or an awareness of what guys are doing and their tendencies, but it’s something we should be able to get more effective in that area.”
The Blackhawks ranked 11th in the league last regular season with a 50.8 percent faceoff winning percentage, but that was largely due to Jonathan Toews. He won 267 faceoffs and lost 187 for a 58.8 percentage.
Among the other Blackhawks who took at least 100 faceoffs, no one had higher than a 42.5 winning percentage. Andrew Shaw, who was primarily the third-line center, was 99-134 for a 42.5 percentage; Marcus Kruger, the fourth-line center, was 96-142 for a 40.3 percentage; and Dave Bolland, the second-line center, was 95-143 for a 39.9 percentage.
Shaw and Kruger have constantly said they’d like to improve on their faceoffs this season. They found Perreault’s instruction helpful on Thursday.
“He’s great at what he does,” Shaw said. “He had a great career because of it. Being out there, it’s an important part of the game, taking a faceoff. It also builds your confidence and something I’m working for. Just after today, I felt I was better now. I just got to take it into a game and better myself there as well.”
Kruger said, “It’s a lot of details in faceoffs. He can help us with that and watch tape and stuff like that. He knows a lot about it. He’s a good addition for our team here. You always want to get better and win the important faceoffs. It’s definitely helps having him here and helps us all out.”
Penalty kill improvement: Quenneville thought the Blackhawks could have been more aggressive on the penalty kill against the Washington Capitals in the season opener on Tuesday. The Capitals scored three power-play goals in the Blackhawks’ 6-4 win.
The Blackhawks didn’t allow a total of three power-play goals until the 11th game last season. The Capitals did lead the NHL with a 26.8 percentage last season.
“I think give them credit for their effectiveness on the power play, and that’s maybe being a little too respectful,” Quenneville said. “I think there’s a balance there. Certain things you need to be aware of. I think we could have been aggressive on some situations that we gave them complete possession.”
Roster moves: The Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs finalized their roster on Thursday. They sent goaltender Mac Carruth and forward David Gilbert to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. Forward Maxim Shalunov also signed an AHL contract for the season.
The IceHogs open their season against the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday.