The power play has been a struggle all season long for the Blackhawks, who slipped to dead last in the NHL with a 14.0 percent success rate after going 0-for-14 with the man advantage on their five-game road trip.
It's not the primary reason the Blackhawks are outside of the playoff picture but it's certainly one of the main reasons they picked up only two out of a possible 10 points in Western Canada. Their two best power play performances were in Edmonton and Vancouver, where they generated a combined 16 scoring chances and six high-danger chances on their eight opportunities.
Back at practice in Chicago on Tuesday, the Blackhawks experimented with some different looks.
Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Erik Gustafsson made up the first unit in a 1-3-1 setup, which has been the structure all season. The second unit, however, was in a box-and-one-type setup with Adam Boqvist and Duncan Keith running the point, Kirby Dach in front of the net, and Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome at the faceoff circles.
"It's a little bit different," DeBrincat said. "We're just playing to our strengths. For us, we're trying to move it along the outside and converge the net. We have two D on [our unit], so for them, it's controlling the blue line and getting pucks on net. The other one is a little bit more of a traditional look, but I think both could be deadly and hopefully that happens."
The Blackhawks spent a majority of practice working on the power play. And rightfully so. Production at 5-on-5 hasn't been an issue; They rank thirteenth with 122 goals. But on the power play, they have scored only 25 times after tucking in 48 last season.
"Just trying to get the reps," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Nothing really new, though. It's just more like getting confidence, and having, for the players, a chance to go through some options and have conversations under pressure."
With the penalty kill performing at a top-10 level this season, a hot power play could be the difference between making a final playoff push and not for the Blackhawks.
"The power play has been something that hasn't been clicking this year," Kane said. "That's something we're trying to improve on and get better at. ... I think it's been pretty good lately. Right now it's just a matter of getting a bounce here or there, and getting some confidence off that."
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