DENVER — Is the book out on the Blackhawks’ penalty kill?
After allowing just nine goals in 82 power plays during their 24-game point streak, the Hawks have given up seven goals in 12 power plays in the four games since.
And they don’t really have a good explanation why.
“It’s hard to say,” Michael Frolik said. “It’s always the little details. We were talking about that in the team meetings. We know we’ve got to be better in that area, especially all the small, little details that make the difference. It’s not easy. They kind of read us, too, how we play the penalty kill, the timing and everything. We have to make sure everybody’s on the same page and does the job just right.”
Two of those “little details” Frolik mentioned are faceoffs in the defensive zone, and defending against redirections in the low slot. In the Hawks’ first loss of the season, Colorado got a goal from Ryan O’Reilly four seconds into a power play after Marcus Kruger suffered a clean faceoff loss in the Hawks’ zone.
And Edmonton scored three power play goals, two of them coming off redirections, which are difficult to defend when executed with precision.
“Just look at the goals, they’re all kind of the same,” Kruger said. “All the goals, we can avoid. That’s something we need to improve on and do a better job there. We know if we do the right things, we’re going to be successful. They’re going to have to make a real good play to score.’’
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville called the penalty-killing — such a source of pride and a factor in the team’s early success — a “sore point” in recent games. But the Hawks haven’t lost faith in their ability to come up with big kills. They feel it’s just a matter of watching more video and getting back to what had been working so well.
“You have to believe in yourself and in each other that we can kill it,” Frolik said. “If we have the details down, we’ll be fine.”