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Puny power play is Joel Quenneville’s quandary

Coach Joel Quenneville Hawks’ power play: “We know thwe have get it better now.” | Nam Y. Huh~AP

Coach Joel Quenneville on the Hawks’ power play: “We know that we have to get it better now.” | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Hawks at Devils

The facts: 6, CSN, 720-AM.

Updated: April 28, 2012 8:15AM

A strength for so long, the Blackhawks’ power play has fallen off so much that coach Joel Quenneville sounded Monday as if he were ­describing a speed bump and not the man advantage.

“We know that we have to get it better now and we have to be improved game-in, game-out,” Quenneville said. “[We’ve] got to have more consistency. Whether you’re scoring or not, we need to not lose momentum on it.”

The Hawks entered Monday with the 23rd-ranked power play (15.5 percent) in the NHL and have managed to convert on three of their last 30 advantages in the last nine games. But they seemed to bottom out Sunday in a 6-1 loss to the Nashville Predators — failing to muster even a shot in four attempts.

“We’re trying to find answers for it, especially this time of year before we get into the playoffs,” Kane said “Every time we’ve been successful [in the postseason] we’ve had a good power play. It’s a huge part of it. If you can capitalize on special teams usually that’s the difference in a ­series or in a game.”

Not having Jonathan Toews (concussion) and Duncan Keith (suspension) on the power play undeniably hurts. But the Hawks were hurting on the power play before they’ve had to make do without Toews or Keith.

Still, with a 9-2-1 record in their last 12 the Hawks have found ways to win despite their struggles.

That’s something the team should remember, said goalie Corey Crawford — who is looking get back to winning ways after being pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots against the Predators.

“We want to come back with a good performance, get back on track,” said Crawford, who lost for the first time in six games. “That wasn’t our team at all. That game’s completely forgotten and we’ve … got to be ready to do those little things, get in the right spots and get those feelings from the games we were playing before.”

Center Jamal Mayers said the loss to Nashville could serve as a reminder for the Hawks.

“The reality is if we don’t play with the same kind of structure to our game [as the Predators] and match that kind of work ethic, we’re not going to have success,” Mayers said. “From that perspective, we don’t want to forget.”

NOTES: Jonathan Toews (concussion) has yet to be cleared for contact but said he continues to feel better day after day.

“I’m feeling pretty close to [being cleared for contact],” said Toews, who steered clear of putting a timetable on his return. “[The training staff] is trying to pull back the reigns a little bit because these last few days I’ve been feeling good. When you get an inch you want to take a mile, so that’s kind of the way I’m feeling.”

◆ Defenseman Steve Montador (concussion) traveled with the team to New Jersey and was “hopeful” he could play Tuesday against the Devils after missing the last 22 games.

◆ Corey Crawford will start in goal against Devils. Backup goalie Ray Emery (upper body) did not make the trip and is day-to-day. The Hawks recalled goalie Carter Hutton from Rockford, and he traveled with the team.

◆ Center Marcus Kruger is expected to play Tuesday after missing the game against the Predators with concussion symptoms.

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