What's wrong with the Blackhawks' penalty kill?


What's wrong with the Blackhawks' penalty kill?

DALLAS – Andrew Desjardins was asked about the Blackhawks’ overall penalty kill this season but his first thoughts were on the second power-play goal they gave up on Wednesday night.

“That second one, personally, was my mess up. That was just a complete misplay by me,” he said following Thursday’s optional practice. “I think the first one is one of those where it’s in between, a pretty good tip, a pretty good shot. Just making it too easy on that first one but the second one, that was my man.”

Hey, things happen sometimes. But for the Blackhawks’ kill lately, things have been happening against it too often. In their last 12 games (including their Feb. 9 outing against the San Jose Sharks), the Blackhawks penalty kill has allowed opponents 14 power-play goals (22 of 36 on kills). Their kill is currently ranked 24th in the NHL. That’s a steep drop from previous seasons; it was ranked 10th last season and third in the league in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

So what gives?

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

“I still think we have to do a better job of blocking shots up top,” Desjardins said. “We have to pay attention to the details. I think just not giving up those free shots, which is key; doing everything to block those, especially wristers. You don’t want to let those get through because they’re easily tipped.”

The Blackhawks want to get their penalty kill back to where it was earlier this season, hopefully beginning on Friday when they face the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks gave up two third-period power-play goals against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. That kill, which has won them games in the past, almost cost them two points the other night.

“I thought it was pretty good to start the year, we were pretty consistent. We’ve slowed down here recently,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Quality of shots, [we’re] not in shooting lanes; whether it’s stick position, awareness of what their strengths and tendencies are, whether it’s neglecting or you get tired, there are some coverage issues that I know we can be better at. Those are the things we want to make sure we shore up on our penalty killing, get it more predictable and consistent.”

Marian Hossa, who’s watched the past three weeks as he recovers from a lower-body injury, said it could be the little details.

[MORE: Stephen Johns set to make NHL debut vs. Blackhawks]

“Well I think the system works; obviously we’ve done it so many years and it was successful. So that’s a great thing. But maybe there’s communication, being that one split second in the right spot,” Hossa said. “There are little things we can make ready. I don’t see a huge issue, but we know how to play it. We just have to be more on the same page.”

Now, missing Hossa and Marcus Kruger, who’s been out with a wrist injury since December, doesn’t help. The two have been critical parts of that kill for several seasons, and getting depth back there should improve the results.

“You get guys who are going to be in the first and third and second and fourth holes,” Quenneville said. “They’ve done it in the past and they’re good at it, and it’s one of their strengths and one of our team strengths is getting through critical penalties.”

But the Blackhawks can’t wait for those two to get back to shore things up. The kill has been a vital part of the Blackhawks’ success the past few seasons. They need it to be good again soon.

[RELATED: Penalties haunt Blackhawks in shootout loss to Blues]

“A lot of nights that can be the difference between winning and losing, especially in key games and in key times in games,” Quenneville said. “We have to get back to being comfortable taking penalties – and when I say comfortable, you get a two- or three-penalty allotment and you’re comfortable in trying to find a way to get through it. But you can lose momentum giving up big goals at the wrong time of games.”


— Hossa participated in the Blackhawks’ optional practice on Thursday. He’ll see where he is after morning skate on whether he can/cannot play against the Stars on Friday night.

— Former Blackhawks left wing Patrick Sharp (lower body) will not play on Friday.

— Corey Crawford will start against the Stars. 

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27


Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who's known to be a puck-mover. He's a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along their blue line.

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his offensive ability.

"I know they have lots of Swedish defensemen," Boqvist said of the Blackhawks. "They played pretty well as a team and like to have the puck, you know, [Patrick] Kane. Yeah, I like it."

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation.

But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson.

"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."

Boqvist joins Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell as the team's top three defensive prospects, all of whom have right-handed shots.