Blackhawks

How Blackhawks power play went from dead last to NHL’s hottest

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AP

How Blackhawks power play went from dead last to NHL’s hottest

When Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach of the Blackhawks, one of his top priorities was fixing the power play. In fact, for the first chunk of home games, he would trot his team out 15 minutes early ahead of morning skate to work on it.

It took a while, but the results have finally come. And they're producing at a remarkable rate.

In the first 35 games of the season, the Blackhawks were 12-for-105 on the power play for a conversion rate of 11.4 percent. In the past 12 games, they are 13-for-36 for a success rate of 36.4 percent. No team has a better percentage since Dec. 18 than the Blackhawks, a span of nearly a month. 

"We've been together for awhile, so I think that's kind of the nice part about it," Patrick Kane said following a 2-for-4 effort against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday. "We know each other's positions. We know where we're going to be when we're in trouble. I think the guys did a really good job of moving the puck around quick tonight. Break-ins are solid and you end up going 2-for-4. It's been a confident part of our game lately."

The Blackhawks have been so hot that they've gone from dead-last in the NHL to middle of the pack in less than a month.

How have they done this? It's a combination of reasons.

"We gained our confidence on there," Dylan Strome said. "We've had this unit now for maybe 10 games or nine games. We're feeling good, obviously. We're getting pucks back, [Jonathan Toews] is doing a great job winning faceoffs. [I] try to do the best I can to screen the goalie. [Erik Gustafsson] is really good up there, a threat to shoot always with a bomb of a shot, but very deceptive where he can pass to [Patrick Kane] or [Alex DeBrincat]. And obviously when you can have a guy like [Kane] on the power play, so deceptive, you think he's going to shoot and then he passes to [DeBrincat] and then [DeBrincat] does what he does and puts it in the net, so we've got a good thing going. Our work ethic is definitely a big reason why we're doing so well."

The Kane to DeBrincat connection has been lethal. They've gotten together for a one-time goal in each of the past four games, and they're giving opposing goalies nightmares. Gustafsson has been a difference-maker running the point. Consistency in the units is always a positive.

The Blackhawks have generated 39 scoring chances on the power play in their last 12 games, which ranks 21st over the stretch that started on Dec. 18, according to naturalstattrick.com. But their shooting percentage on those chances is 25.0, which ranks second. Everything is going in for them.

Having experienced a lengthy drought and now a ridiculous hot streak, the Blackhawks know they have to keep their foot on the gas pedal and continue to build on that success or else it can turn the other way in a hurry, particularly their confidence.

"Yeah, it's been clicking," DeBrincat said. "But it can go away just like that, too. We just got to try to keep it rolling and keep the power play going."

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

On the latest Hawks Talk podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis preview a wildcard weekend in Chicago, discuss Patrick Kane continuing his point streak, the latest on Corey Crawford, what Colin Delia needs to work on, and how the Hawks will approach the trade deadline.

1:00 - Hawks winning when not playing their best

1:45 - Kane extends point streak to 19 games

3:00 - Can Kane surpass his previous 26-game point streak?

8:33 - DeBrincat reaches 33 goals this season

10:30 - Hawks get ready to take on Avs and Stars

13:30 - Update on Corey Crawford status

16:00 - Crawford play before the trade deadline?

17:30 - Crawford being around affecting Colin Delia?

18:30 - What Delia needs to work on

21:00 - How the Hawks will approach Monday's trade deadline

14:00 - Is Gustav Forsling the only defenseman the team would move?

26:00 - Are Perlini and Sikura part of the long-term plan with the Hawks

28:00 - How Artem Anisimov's contract will affect his future with the Hawks

29:00 - Would the Hawks be willing to move Brandon Saad?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Patrick Kane plays overtime hero for Blackhawks, who briefly pull inside playoff picture

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Four takeaways: Patrick Kane plays overtime hero for Blackhawks, who briefly pull inside playoff picture

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-4 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday:

1. Patrick Kane to the rescue

After squandering a three-goal lead in the third period, the Blackhawks found themselves fighting for the extra point in overtime when they thought they had it locked up. And they picked it up thanks to No. 88 saving the day.

The play started because of a terrific individual effort by Jonathan Toews, who drove it hard to the net, followed up on his rebound and fed it to Erik Gustafsson, who put it right on Kane's tape and buried it. It was Kane's second goal of the game, and 38th of the season, pulling within four of Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead.

While Kane's 18-game assist streak ended, his point streak was extended to 19 games, as was his goal streak and multi-point streak to four games. Showtime delivered when the Blackhawks needed him most, as he often does.

2. Overcoming first-period struggles

Going into Wednesday, the Blackhawks had given up a league-worst 82 goals in the first period this season; no other team had allowed more than 68. And in their previous four games, they had given up 12 goals — three per game. It's been an area concern as of late.

Even though they gave up a goal in the opening frame against Detroit, the Blackhawks answered with three of their own and cashed in on their limited opportunities. Jimmy Howard was pulled after giving up four goals on eight shots, marking the second straight game the Blackhawks forced the opposing coach to change goaltenders mid-game.

It was important that the Blackhawks got off to that start, given how the rest of the contest unfolded.

3. Third-period collapse

The worst lead in hockey is three goals, as they say. Because teams tend to think their lead is safe and sit back. Then before they know it, the game is closer than they imagined it would get and the tide has quickly turned.

That's what happened to the Blackhawks, who had no answer for the Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha line. The duo combined for two goals, five assists and 22 shot attempts (16 on goal) as the Red Wings scored three times in the third period, including a late goal by Andreas Athanasiou for his second of the game with 1:26 left in regulation.

The Blackhawks were outshot 12-5 in the final frame and generated only two scoring chances to Detroit's nine. They nearly survived in regulation, but the Red Wings' push was too much to stave off.

4. Who's ready for Friday?

It doesn't matter how you pick up points at this stage in the season. A pretty win or ugly win counts the same in the standings.

By earning another two points, the Blackhawks jumped the Minnesota Wild for the second position in the Western Conference with 61 points. But it didn't last too long as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 shortly after and moved into that spot because they have a game in hand. 

Which brings us to Friday, when the Blackhawks and Avalanche clash at the United Center in a potential four-point swing.

Authentic Fan Night. An early 6:30 p.m. start. Margaritaville Night. And a chance to move into a playoff spot. What more could you ask for?

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