Chicago Blackhawks’ Power Play Misfires

The Chicago Blackhawks, in general, have gotten off to a slow start this season. One of the rougher areas in their game has been the lack of production in their power play. So far, the Blackhawks have only cashed in three times on 17 attempts while on the advantage. One can’t help but think that maybe if they had capitalized once or twice more while on the power play in their previous games, maybe it wouldn’t have taken four games to pick up their first win of the season.

The team was mediocre on the power play last season, racking up 48 goals out of 238 chances while on the advantage. Chicago saw better production out of their power play lines towards the back-half of the season with Alex DeBrincat leading the charge, scoring 13 of his 41 goals while on the power play. Sure, things could be moving onward and upward after last Monday’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers, but cashing in while on the power play betters your chances of winning games down the stretch.

Alex DeBrincat Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Alex DeBrincat (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

“I think it’s probably looked better than the results. I think we’re missing just a little bit of execution at times. I feel like we’re just missing that last play and that last connection, but we feel pretty good about the guys we have and there are plays available, just gotta execute.”

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton 10/16/2019

Shoot the Puck

There’s one thing in common with teams that have a really good power play: they pull the trigger and shoot. Cycling the puck is not a problem for the Blackhawks. They can skate circles on the ice and make sharp passes to each other, but if you don’t get a shot on net, you have no chance of scoring. In those first three losses, the Blackhawks were behind in the shots-on-goal category, but in the win over Edmonton, they had more than the Oilers with 35 shots on net.

Make Better Entries

As I said before, the Blackhawks have no problem in their passing game, setting up a nice play to get the puck into the other team’s zone for a scoring opportunity – but getting it into across the blue line sometimes poses a problem.

Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Having a solid and effective entry into the opposing team’s zone is key for being able to cycle the puck around while in the zone to set up a shot. Sometimes the Blackhawks are forced to get the puck in deep, meaning they have to be able to win the physical battle in order to effectively move the puck around.

Balanced Units

Lines are always changing and ever-evolving. In all reality, nobody knows which combination will be best suited for the power play. We do know that the power play units of the past four games haven’t clicked. It seems as if the team loaded up the first unit with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, and Erik Gustafsson, leaving a weaker second-unit combination. As of now, the first unit is Toews, Dominik Kubalik, Kane, Gustafsson, and DeBrincat, with the second having Strome, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook. From the outsider’s point of view, this appears to be more balanced and has the potential to be more effective while on the advantage.

Erik Gustafsson #56 of the Chicago Blackhawks
Erik Gustafsson #56 of the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The season is still young and though it may sound as if we’re making the lack of power play production a real problem, in all actuality, the Blackhawks simply haven’t had that many power play opportunities so far. Still, you want to come out of the gate hot. You don’t want to always be the team that has to develop players during the season –– that’s what the offseason is for. The Blackhawks need to find balance in their game and what their team is going to look like with that talent –– fast.