Blackhawks’ penalty-killers too passive against aggressive Capitals
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter October 3, 2013 9:22PM
Brandon Bollig, Joakim Nordstrom
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:37AM
As odd as it was to see the Blackhawks surrender three power-play goals in the season opener against the Washington Capitals, it was even stranger to see them look so passive in the process. Last season’s highly successful penalty kill was built on aggressive play, yet the Capitals were the aggressors Tuesday — at times closing in so tightly around the net that their point men were nearly at the faceoff dots.
“Give them credit for their effectiveness on the power play, [but also] us being a little too respectful,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There’s a balance there. I think we could have been aggressive in some situations that we gave them complete possession.”
The Hawks allowed only 18 power-play goals in 48 games last season, killing at an 87.2 percent clip, third-best in the league. The absence of the hyper-aggressive Michael Frolik (traded to the Winnipeg Jets) was noticeable, but the Hawks believe rookie Joakim Nordstrom will fill the role well with time.
“That’s an ongoing process,” center Marcus Kruger said. “Like we saw last game, we have some work to do. But I think we’ll be fine in the future.”
The Hawks named 14-year NHL veteran Yanic Perreault their player-development coach in July, and the former faceoff specialist was on hand at practice Thursday to work with the centers.
Perreault is hailed as one of the greatest faceoff men in league history, winning more than 60 percent of his draws during his career.
“He’s great at what he does,” said Andrew Shaw, who won 44 percent of his draws last season. “Just after today, I felt like I was better.”
Said Kruger (46.2 percent): “He knows so much. It’s an area where I can be better. I’m going to try to listen to him as much as I can and use him as much as I can.”
Michal Handzus missed practice. Quenneville called it a maintenance day and said he’ll be back on the ice Friday and should play Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Handzus missed much of the second period Tuesday with an undisclosed injury but returned to assist on Brandon Saad’s game-tying goal in the third period.