Thursday, April 26, 2012
Power play woes common refrain for Hawks
By Jesse Rogers
Andrew Brunette injured his foot near the end of the season, but he didn't make any excuses.
The Chicago Blackhawks cleaned out their lockers on Wednesday and several players met the media for the final time this season. Much has already been written about Patrick Kane playing center and goalie Corey Crawford's season. Here are some other news and notes from eight players, in order of their appearance at the microphone:
Toews said he doesn't "feel anything lasting there" in regards to his concussion which caused him to miss the final 22 regular-season games. But he knows he didn't handle the injury well from the outset. He played through the symptoms before taking himself out of the lineup.
"It was definitely a learning experience," he said. "Definitely be smarter about it next time."
He was asked if he'll have some say in offseason personnel decisions.
Patrick Kane didn't score a goal in the playoffs.
"Every year I start to become a little more vocal as far as those things go."
The power play and penalty kill were topics that continued to come up throughout the day.
"It seemed to be the difference," Toews said. "We need to address it. And when we do it will make a huge difference for our team. You kick yourself for underachieving in that respect."
On the season in general:
"We had a lot of great qualities as a group. When things don't go your way it's tough to explain. We're paid a lot of money to play a sport but at the same time we take it very seriously."
He knows he had a rough playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, earning just four assists but they came in the first three games.
"It was a little disappointing. I love playing in playoffs, I love being that playoff performer but it didn't really work out this year."
On why he received a 10-minute misconduct penalty at the end of the final game: "A little bit of frustration. The ref was like just ‘get this guy out of the game.' I didn't say anything. I was just slashing like Paul Bunyon out there."
Like Sharp, Kane knows there were missed opportunities on the power play.
"It's pretty embarrassing walking by the locker room [seeing the rankings]. There are 16 teams in playoffs and you're 16th rated in the league. It's pretty embarrassing. There really wasn't a net front guy all year. The power play has been successful in the past. You had [former Hawks] [Tomas] Kopecky, [Troy] Brouwer, [Dustin] Byfuglien. That's a huge part of the power play. There was really no set net front guy this year ... Personally it was a huge downfall for me and something I definitely want to better at next year."
Bolland agreed that the lack of a body in front of the net hurt the power play.
"Things weren't clicking," he said. "We have a lot of identity on that power play if you look at the guys that are on there ...That front net presence is huge for us. Guys hate it and goalies hate it."
Bolland was the first player to mention the loss of Dan Carcillo. By coincidence or not the Hawks went south after Carcillo left the lineup with a season ending injury in early January.
"The big thing I think was ‘Car Bomb', he was a big presence. Throwing his body around or chirping guys. Guys hate it, it throws guys off their game."
Bickell had a good playoff series, contributing two goals in Game 2 and leading all postseason performers through six games with 32 hits. He had just finished his end of the year meeting with the coaches.
"They talked about my consistency. This year was a roller coaster. Come playoffs I thought I picked up my game. For me to help this team I need to keep it simple. Work hard and finish my checks like I did in the playoffs ...They want me to be physical I know that."
Keith's strongest comments were about the Hawks penalty killing units. The winning goal in Game 6 for the Coyotes came via the power play.
"He couldn't see that goal," Keith said of Crawford. "They had a net front presence. Penalty kill is simple for me sometimes. It's just instincts. Its pressuring when you know when to pressure. Taking away passing lanes, blocking shots. I don't think you over think the penalty kill. It's has to be instincts."
Keith took some blame for the porous power play as well.
"Confidence was a factor. It got in our heads. I know I can be better at that, be on the power play and help it. I've done well in the past. It's an area I can help out."
He was one player that surpassed expectations, at least in the regular season.
"I'm pretty happy how this season turned out as far as personal gains. I want to improve going into next year."
Much was made of his 42-point season without one coming on special teams.
"Definitely, I want to get a chance. I wasn't on there for any extended period of time. That's something I'm looking to get better and working at ...I think we missed those guys in Kopecky and Brouwer that did that [screens] for us before."