Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Blackhawks [Print without images]

Sunday, November 6, 2011
Hawks' power play still their biggest issue

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- Are the Chicago Blackhawks in denial about their own dreadful power play?

After giving up five power-play goals against, which ties a a franchise record according to Elias Sports Bureau, in a lopsided 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night, most will focus on that historic achievement. But it was a fluke.

The Hawks have been great on the penalty kill this year, so it gets a pass when it has one bad night -- even this bad. But the Hawks could have kept themselves in the game if they had cashed in one of their five attempts on the power play. They didn’t, and now they’ve dropped below a 10 percent conversion rate through the first 14 games. That’s awful.

Dan Carcillo
Dan Carcillo can certainly protect the Blackhawks, but can he really help the power play?
“I think it comes down to the guys on the ice competing and finding a way to put the puck in the net,” Patrick Sharp said after the game. “We talked about it a lot on this past road trip, and we came up with a big goal there [in Tampa Bay] that was a big turning point in the game. For some reason tonight we just couldn’t get it going. We’ve got skilled players out there that have had success on the power play before, so it’s just a matter of getting on a roll. I don’t think it’s a matter of confidence out there, we all believe we can do it.”

On Sunday, the power play looked as bad as it has all season but the Hawks continue to put on a good face about it. There’s no anger, maybe just some frustration.

“I think we were good in the game in Tampa,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think tonight the power play isn’t in relation to the cold streak we’ve had lately. It just went with our weak game that we had tonight. It was just a team effort that was poor and the power play went along with it.”

When the Hawks point to the Tampa Bay game, they’re referring to scoring once in two tries to break a five game scoreless streak. It didn’t exactly open the floodgates.

“Power play, we had some chances around the net, theirs were being cashed in,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we weren’t terrible, but I’m looking for production at the end of the night.”

So is everyone. At just 5-for-53 on the season, that production isn’t coming. The Canucks matched that number in one game on Sunday, embarrassing both Hawks special teams at once.

Quenneville has tried almost everything and seems as confused as ever when it comes to personnel. Daniel Carcillo saw time (3:26) with the man-advantage, but former two-time 20-goal scorer Michael Frolik did not. Carcillo has scored 20 over the last three seasons combined, with his 20th coming last Friday. Bryan Bickell spent 20 seconds on the power play Sunday after scoring 17 goals last season, while Quenneville left his top unit from a year ago intact early in the game after just breaking them up recently.

Nothing is working.

The power play is a problem -- a big one -- and the sooner the Hawks admit it to themselves, and the world, the sooner they might be able to fix it.