Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Faceoffs, power plays doom Hawks
By Scott Powers
BOSTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks can point to plenty of reasons for their 2-0 loss Monday to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, but coach Joel Quenneville put his finger on two specific areas -- faceoffs and power plays.
The Blackhawks wasted all five of their power-play chances in Game 3 and extended their goal-less streak to 20 consecutive power plays, including all 11 in the finals.
The power play has been an ongoing issue for the Blackhawks, but their faceoffs hadn't been a major problem. The Bruins held a slim 97-89 faceoff advantage after two games. In Game 3, however, the Blackhawks lost 40 of 56 faceoffs (71 percent).
"You can talk about [the faceoffs] and our power play," Quenneville said following the loss. "Those were basically the differentials in the game."
The Blackhawks' faceoff troubles could be attributed to two of their own players and one Bruin. Forwards Michal Handzus and Dave Bolland combined to go 1-for-17 on faceoffs, and Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron won 24 of 28 faceoffs. Bergeron has won 66 of 86 faceoffs in the series.
"It is definitely something we take a lot of pride in," Bergeron said. "We talk about it a lot and we have some very good centermen. It is not just about the four centers on the ice. It is about everybody chipping in and helping and winning those battles."
It was the same old story for the Blackhawks. They had a few quality chances, but mostly they struggled to keep the puck in the zone and ultimately got few pucks to the net. They finished with four shots on goal in their five power plays.
Quenneville has often remained positive and optimistic about the team's power play, but he wouldn't sugarcoat it Monday.
"Our power play tonight was definitely not good," Quenneville said.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, like a lot of his teammates, has had trouble comprehending why they've continuously struggled on the power play. They possess a lot of individual scoring power and have rarely lacked goals when at even strength all season.
"It's frustrating," Keith said. "We just need to go out and play, let our skill take over. ... It's a fine line between winning the game and losing it. It just came down to a couple plays. If our power play scores one, it changes things. I know we've beat that to death, but just got to score a goal sooner or later."
Forward Patrick Sharp hasn't given up hope on the power play.
"I think we'll take power plays," Sharp said. "As many as they want to give us, we'll take them. Doesn't matter what the numbers are, what the stats say. You know it's a chance to be out there 5-on-4, outwork them to get scoring chances. It was ugly at times. There were also times where we had scoring opportunities. We'll work to get better."