Monday, January 27, 2014
Stock Watch: Special teams trends
By Scott Powers
Marcus Kruger has been a big asset on the penalty kill while Brandon Saad has cooled off after a hot start.
1. Penalty kill: The Blackhawks just can’t seem to get the power play and penalty kill clicking at the same time. It’s been the penalty kill that has been succeeding lately. The Blackhawks haven’t allowed a power-play goal in the last five games and have allowed just four goals in 31 power plays this month. They have moved up to 27th in the league with a 78.5 penalty-kill percentage.
2. Marcus Kruger, forward: Kruger has been one of the more consistent players for the Blackhawks this month. He has one goal, six assists and a plus-two rating for January. He’s recorded a point in four of the last five games. That’s impressive considering all of the defensive zone starts he gets with the fourth line. He’s also been key to the team’s success on the penalty kill in recent weeks.
3. Nick Leddy, defenseman: Leddy may not get the same difficult defensive assignments as consistently as the first two defensive pairings, but he’s doing his job. He hasn’t been on the ice for an even-strength goal in the last eight games. He was especially good in the Blackhawks’ last two games and was among the team’s leaders in Corsi percentage in both games.
1. Bryan Bickell, forward: Bickell found himself a healthy scratch on Sunday. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had been limiting Bickell’s minutes throughout January. He had played less than 10 minutes in eight games this month. Quenneville said Sunday he needs more from Bickell, who has one goal and a minus-six rating for January. He just hasn’t been the same player since returning from his knee injury.
2. Brandon Saad, forward: Saad has cooled off after putting up some consistent scoring numbers through the season’s first three months. He had 14 goals through 42 games. Since then, he’s scored once in the last 12 games. His last goal came against New Jersey Devils on Jan. 3. He has five points and a plus-five rating for the month.
3. Power play: The Blackhawks’ power play has dipped this month. The Blackhawks have scored four goals on 33 power plays in January. They have one power-play goal over the last six games. Their overall percentage has dropped to 22 percent for the season.