Blackhawks’ power play has powerful new look
BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT email@example.com April 10, 2012 11:20PM
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook watches his shot veer wide of the goal during a game with the Minnesota Wild Thursday January 12, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:16AM
Joel Quenneville loaded up the Blackhawks’ top power-play unit in practice for the second consecutive day ahead of his team’s first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Brent Seabrook was the lone defenseman with forwards Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa as Quenneville continued to look for the right combination to jolt the Hawks’ 25th-ranked power play (15.2 percent).
“You look at the personnel, that’s some high-end talent on the one unit,” Quenneville said Tuesday before the Hawks departed for Glendale, Ariz. “The thing we want to make sure we still do is shoot the puck.”
Forwards Marcus Kruger, Andrew Brunette and Andrew Shaw and defensemen Johnny Oduya and Duncan Keith worked on the No. 2 unit.
The Hawks’ power play slumped down the stretch, converting on just 3 of 29 chances (10.3 percent) in the final seven games of the regular season. But Keith isn’t convinced that will hold the Hawks back.
“You could make a case that [special teams] are not that vital,” Keith said. “Boston won the Stanley Cup last year, and their power play wasn’t that good.”
The Bruins finished the 2010-11 season 15th on the power play at 17.2 percent.
Toews said his status was the same, and he still plans to decide Thursday if he’ll play in Game 1.
Toews, who is confident the new-look top line with Kane and Hossa can work, said that he continued to improve and that the difference is “night and day” in terms of how he feels now compared with several weeks ago.
“I just want to be the guy that doesn’t get in the way, play smart defense and try and get them the puck and just make [Kane and Hossa’s] job easier,” Toews said. “If I go out there and do that, those two guys will be just fine.”
Kane settling in
Day 2 at his third position of the season was more comfortable for Kane, who once again skated at left wing.
“I felt a lot better today,” Kane said. “Sometimes you think too much about positions and what position you’re playing. It’s just about playing the game and playing the way you know how to play.”