NEW YORK – Once upon a time in the land of the Blackhawks, the power play was a bit of a running joke.
Despite the massive talent on that power play, the Blackhawks struggled on it. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it rarely cost them; their 5-on-5 scoring and penalty kill were so good, they could get past the lack of power play scoring. Still, it was stupefying that it scored so infrequently.
Well, the power play hasn’t had a problem scoring lately. In fact, that formerly maligned power play is the main reason the Blackhawks are winning again.
The Blackhawks scored three power-play goals on Wednesday night, lifting them from a 3-2 deficit to a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers. The power play’s been clicking plenty lately; the Blackhawks went 4-for-7 on it in their lopsided victory over Toronto on Monday and it was 1-for-2 in an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. So that’s eight power-play goals in three games for the Blackhawks.
So what the heck is working?
“I don’t know. I guess whoever goes out there has been contributing,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’re getting shots, we’re getting pucks back. Like I said [Wednesday] morning, when you get those pucks back from your first chances, it always gives you confidence that you can go back and make plays and try to make things happen, knowing that everyone’s in position, everyone’s moving and things are clicking a little bit.”
You could argue some of the Blackhawks’ offseason changes have helped that power play, too. Artemi Panarin, who had two power-play goals against the Rangers, has been a great offensive contributor on 5-on-5 and on the advantage. Artem Anisimov has also been good, especially as a net-front presence. And as Toews said, confidence in any aspect of a game usually leads to more production in it.
“The power play [Wednesday] was just like the Toronto game, where it was instrumental us winning the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was definitely the big factor.”
Sure, you could argue that the Blackhawks haven’t faced the best penalty kills these past two games. The Maple Leafs are ranked 22nd in the NHL on the penalty kill while the Rangers are 28th. But in recent seasons, facing a bad penalty kill didn’t necessarily mean the Blackhawks’ power play was successful.
The Blackhawks’ power play used to be a bit of a joke. There were times when the Blackhawks got more momentum shorthanded than with the man advantage. This season, especially lately, that has changed. The Blackhawks’ power play is currently the second-best in the NHL. It’s been critical in a lot of games, definitely getting them victories in their last two. Confidence is everything, and the Blackhawks currently have a lot of that on the power play.
“[On] 5-on-5 and the power play, when you’re scoring and you’re confident, things continue in that trend,” Toews said. “We’ve been seeing that right now and obviously it’s something we want to continue with.”