Blackhawks

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

It’s an annual rite of passage if you cover or are a fan of the Blackhawks: you question the power play, because there always seems to be an issue with the power play. You wonder why every season, given the talent on this team. And again this fall the power play has sputtered.

But a funny thing happened at the end of the weekend. The Blackhawks’ power play started to look good, started to generate chances and started to score. In 10 games prior to the Blackhawks’ Nov. 12 game against New Jersey they had just three power-play goals in 40 opportunities. In their last three games (vs. the Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins), they’ve tallied five goals on 13 opportunities.

So what’s been working?

“I’ll probably give you the same answer as when it wasn’t working: pucks to the net, guys in front,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have the shot mentality more so than just moving it around and getting it set up. You look at the goals we’ve scored, it’s nothing overly complicated. It’s just getting the puck to the net. Just stay with it.”

Sounds simple enough, but the stay-with-it part has probably been the toughest segment of the equation. When the Blackhawks slumped they really slumped, and their lack of confidence on the power play was as evident as their lack of scoring on it. Yes, stressing over it can have its affect; and when the Blackhawks got those two power-play goals against the Devils it seemed to be a release.

“You get one, that weight gets lifted off your chest a little bit, you can play a little loser and maybe not grip your stick as tight as when things weren’t going well,” Cody Franson said. “When you’re confident out there you’re moving the puck cleanly, things happen a little quicker for you and give you those better looks at good chances. When you’re not that confident sometimes you’re not executing as well and things were moving slower and you’re not generating too much. Confidence definitely plays a big part in it.”

So back to what’s working. The Blackhawks started becoming more active on the power play, cutting down on the passes and increasing the shots. They’ve been there for rebounds. They started feeding off the success, be it with the power play as a unit or with individual performances. Artem Anisimov has returned to being a force at the net again; of his five goals in his last three games, two are power-play goals.

“A couple of broken plays and sometimes you get some breaks. You win a faceoff and make a quick little play after a couple of great opportunities on the prior whistle there that didn’t go in. I just think shots at the net and traffic and off that, sometimes they go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our entries have always been alright this year, so we’re getting zone time and let’s get some simpler looks and sometimes they go in. I think gaining confidence there, it seems like we’re having the puck more and longer and sustaining some offense off it.”

The Blackhawks have struggled more than they’ve succeeded on the power play the last few seasons. But as their overall scoring has increased again, so has their power-play production. Good timing.

“People tend to say the power play can keep you in games and the penalty kill can win you games. Our penalty kill’s been great and has given us chances in a lot of games. [Corey Crawford’s] been playing pretty well,” Franson said. “And when our power play can give us success we find ourselves in better situations to try and win games.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which Hawks have impressed most during five-game win streak?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Which Hawks have impressed most during five-game win streak?

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Pat Boyle is joined by Jamal Mayers and Brian Campbell. The guys discuss which Blackhawks are on the top of their game. Patrick Kane is certainly on the list after he scored two goals against the Wild, and Corey Crawford has been lights out since his return from injury.

Plus, If Erik Karlsson is on the trade block, how aggressive should Hawks be in acquiring him?

Listen to the full episode of the podcast at this link or in the embedded player below:

As Patrick Kane approaches 300 career goals, Jeremy Roenick says he will be best Blackhawk ever

As Patrick Kane approaches 300 career goals, Jeremy Roenick says he will be best Blackhawk ever

Patrick Kane's career to this point has already cemented him as one of the best Blackhawks ever, but former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick thinks Kane will stand alone in Blackhawk history by the time he hangs up the skates.

Roenick made a guest appearance on Intermission Live during the first intermission of Sunday's 4-1 Blackhawks win against the Wild, a game in which Kane scored two goals to bring his career total to 299 and move into fifth place in Blackhawks history in goal scored. During the interview, Roenick had plenty of praise for No. 88.

Host Pat Boyle told Roenick that Denis Savard thinks Kane will be the best Blackhawk ever and Roenick agreed.

"I say 100 percent of that," Roenick said. "I say that only because you look at the dynamics of the way this guy plays, you see the way he scares the bejeezes out of other defensemen on other teams, three Stanley Cups, the points that he's putting up, he's going to go down as the best American with Mike Modano."

Kane scored a goal in each of the first two periods on Sunday to give the Blackhawks a fifth straight win. He has 14 goals and 20 assists this season to lead the Blackhawks in both categories. The milestones are falling and more are approaching. Not only is Kane one goal away from 300 for his career, but he is approaching 500 career assists (currently at 487) and 800 career points (currently at 786). He's 29 and showing no sign of slowing down so the milestones should continue to fall, thus making Roenick's argument that he could finish his career as the best ever.

Roenick's predictions didn't stop there. He continued to say Kane and Toews will be honored in another way.

"He's going to have a statue, along with Jonathan Toews, out there on Madison Avenue at one point in their careers, in their lives," Roenick said. "It's well deserved because they really took this organization that was sputtering and have turned it into the best organization in all of sports. They deserve a lot of credit and they will go down as one of the best Hawks ever."

See the video above to watch Roenick's comments.