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High-powered ‘Hawks, Pens look to cure power play woes

Apr 23, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

Jonathan Toews #19 and Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks talk in a break from Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena on April 21, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 2-1 in overtime.
(April 20, 2012 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Pittsburgh and Chicago finished 1st and 10th in the NHL in power play efficiency during the regular season but, through three games of their respective opening-round series, both have had problems scoring with the man advantage.

The Pens have just three power play goals versus Columbus despite having the most opportunities (17) in the playoffs thus far — the Blue Jackets have scored twice shorthanded, too — while the ‘Hawks have gone a measly 1-for-14 against St. Louis with the man advantage.

“Certainly the power play was not very good,” Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You don’t want to lose the momentum off it during a game and those offensive guys feed off that and get more comfortable with the puck as you progress in the game. We need that to be something to trigger our offense.”

It’s hard to know exactly where to start with Chicago’s anemic PP. The ‘Hawks have struggled to put shots on goal — just four in four man advantage opportunities during the Game 3 win — but there’s also the Blues’ penalty kill to consider. It finished second in the league during the regular season, working at an impressive 85.7 percent clip. Quenneville acknowledged the Blues “move really well as a team and are well coached” on the penalty kill… but that doesn’t escape the fact Chicago had good success against St. Louis during the regular season, going 5-for-14 over six games.

Pittsburgh also seems to have a multitude of issues to correct. Surrendering shorthanded goals is an issue, as is the lack of shots — just 24 on 17 opportunities — and one has to mention the power play is scoreless in its last 12 opportunities. The Pens scored three times on their first five chances, but have been silent ever since.

The key to solving the problem, according to James Neal, is to get back to the shoot-first mentality.

“The most important thing you need is an attacking mindset,” he said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You’ve got to be shooting pucks and pressuring. When you do that, it puts the penalty-kill back on their heels. That’s something we’ve done all year.”

  1. danglesnipecelly88 - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    It’s the 2014 playoffs, goalies and defenses are very good. The 2 best teams in the west are playing in a first round series. There is a reason oddsmakers have had Chicago and St. Louis as HEAVY favorites to win the west all year. Reg season standings indicate nothing

  2. tfilarski - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    it is almost like the hawks like to use their man advantage as a way to kill game clock and protect the puck

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:33 PM

      Except they don’t. They cough up at least one decent shorthanded chance in every other power play it seems.

      • McFaddensPulledHammy - Apr 23, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        If only we could decline the penalty….

    • c9castine - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      yeah that doesnt make sense.

      i hope you meant that as a knock on them, not as a real observation.

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