Blackhawks penalty kill will be tested by Ducks' power play


Blackhawks penalty kill will be tested by Ducks' power play

ANAHEIM, Calif. — You hear it all the time from the great teams: regardless of their success level they always feel they can be better, be it overall or in certain facets of their game.

The Blackhawks did get better on their penalty kill from the first round to the second, cutting the number of goals they allowed in half. It was something that needed to be rectified; their power play was their bread and butter back in the 2013 postseason run.

But the tests aren’t finished. Because now, when they face the Anaheim Ducks beginning Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks will have to snuff out the league’s best postseason power play.

The Ducks have scored nine power-play goals on 29 opportunities for a 31 percent success rate. With the likes of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon, who are also the Ducks’ top-line players, the Ducks have taken advantage of their advantages. They had three power-play goals in their four-game sweep against the Winnipeg Jets; but it really took off against the Calgary Flames, scoring six goals, (two goals each in Games 1, 4 and 5.)

[MORE: Boudreau says these Ducks are 'a more determined group']

“They have a couple of really skilled individuals on that team and are really good at those short passes in front of the net, close to the net, and finding good passing lanes,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “It’s going to be a tough challenge but I think we came up with a couple of big kills against Minnesota. The overall total wasn’t what we wanted, but that’s definitely one area we can improve on. And we have to improve on it if we’re going to move forward to the next round.”

The Blackhawks penalty kill has nullified 71.2 percent of the power plays they’ve faced. It’s not a great percentage, although it’s one that’s skewed by the first round when they allowed six power-play goals. They gave up three to Minnesota, although one was a 6-on-4 power play goal in the final three minutes of Game 4.

So it’s getting better. But against the Ducks, it’s going to have to be great. Granted, the Blackhawks know the best way to avoid penalty-kill concerns.

“Stay out of the box, first option,” said coach Joel Quenneville.

Sure, but since they’ll still likely end up on the kill, the Blackhawks know they have to be prepared.

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“They have two real good units. They shoot the puck, have presence at the net, good patience and play recognition and are a threat off the rush,” Quenneville said. “All areas of our penalty killing have to be aware of their options, try to deter clean entries. It starts even off faceoffs. They’re dangerous in a lot of ways, so let’s make sure we don’t give them too many opportunities.”

The Blackhawks felt better about their kill as they wrapped up their second round. They want to keep improving in that department. The Ducks’ power play will test that.

“It’s a situation we’ll have to face,” Jonathan Toews said. “We have to be as good as we can be, especially [since] it’s been a big part of their game. We know the type of players they have who are a huge part of their offense. That’s where they like to capitalize. First our focus is staying away, staying out of the box. From there, [there are] some details we’ve been going over this past week. It’ll be a huge focus tomorrow.”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: