Monday, December 9, 2013
Stock Watch: Power play making up for PK
By Scott Powers
Patrick Kane has been consistently good this season, while Corey Crawford has had some ups and downs.
1. Power play, special teams: What a difference a year has made for the power play. The Blackhawks were constantly searching for answers on the power play a season ago, and now they’re producing nearly every game. They rank fourth in the league with a 23.1 power-play percentage. They have scored a power-play goal in their last five games and scored a season-high three power-play goals on Sunday. With the penalty killing struggling this season, the power play has been vital to the Blackhawks’ success.
2. Patrick Sharp, forward: If Canada is looking for a pure shooter who can score and create rebounds for its Olympic team, Sharp is the solution. He’s fired away at every angle this season, which is leading to production for himself and his teammates. Three of his shots led to goals on Sunday. He scored once and Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw benefitted with goals off Sharp’s shots. Sharp is averaging five shots on goal in December and 3.8 shots on goal for the season. He’s also tied for second on the team with 27 points. He has 12 goals and 15 assists.
3. Patrick Kane, forward: Kane just continues to pile up points. He added three more on Sunday and now has 37 points in 32 games. He’s tied for second in the league for points with Evgeni Malkin and just trails Sidney Crosby's 42 points. Kane has recorded a point in 17 of his last 18 games.
1. Penalty kill, special teams: The Blackhawks may have had one of their best penalty-killing games from a percentage standpoint against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, but their shorthanded problem hasn’t exactly been fixed. For one, the Panthers are among the league’s worst power-play teams. Aside from that, the Blackhawks had allowed at least one power-play goal in their previous four games. The Blackhawks anticipated some ups and downs on their PK this season, but it’s been far more down than up so far. Despite killing off five penalties on Sunday, the Blackhawks still dropped 1.4 percentage points from the previous week and fell to 29th in the league again with a 73.3 penalty-killing percentage.
2. Corey Crawford, goaltender: Crawford’s consistency was remarkable last season. He kept the Blackhawks in nearly every game and limited his awful starts. He hasn’t been able to follow up that this season. While he has played at a high level at times this year, he has also had his share of struggles. Prior to Sunday’s first-period injury, he had allowed eight goals on 41 shots in his previous two starts. His 2.47 goals-against average and .907 save percentage are among the bottom half of the league’s goaltenders.