Blackhawks built for overtime — so what’s the problem?
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 23, 2014 7:02PM
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Updated: January 23, 2014 11:29PM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Perhaps no team in the NHL boasts as many elite skill players as the Blackhawks do. Four-on-four hockey — with its wide-open ice and propensity for odd-man rushes — seems perfectly suited to the likes of Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
Yet the Hawks have played in 17 overtime periods this season, and haven’t scored in any of them.
And nobody can quite explain it.
“Yeah, it’s a good question,” Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said following Wednesday’s shootout loss to Detroit. “I don’t know the answer to that. You try to make plays, and you try to hold on to the puck and have possession, but you want to be smart at the same time. You want to create chances, but you don’t want to give up too many chances. We don’t really get scored on in overtime much, either. But I don’t know what it is. I have no idea.”
Indeed, the Hawks have been beaten in overtime just five times this season — three in the last three weeks. The other 12 have gone to shootouts, in which the Hawks are 5-7 and have lost five of their last six.
Joel Quenneville thinks the poor shootout record might have something to do with it.
“I think there’s a big difference when you try to win in overtime, and when you’re just playing for the shootout,” he said of the Hawks’ opponents. “So I think teams are playing 4-on-4 patient, [because] it’s not like if you don’t get the win, you don’t get anything. … Let’s put it this way, they’re not going to get in a run-and-gun game and exchange high-quality rush chances.”
Still, it’s not as if the Hawks haven’t had their chances. They had plenty against Detroit, including a Brent Seabrook shot from the right circle, and a rebound which came to Jonathan Toews in the corner. It went wide. For whatever reason, the pucks just haven’t gone in during the five-minute extra period.
“I don’t know if there’s any real explanation for it,” Jonathan Toews said. “Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.”
Niklas Hjalmarsson chose to look on the bright side. At least the Hawks are going to overtime frequently — only Washington has played more overtime games this season (18), and no team has been in more shootouts (104) since they were introduced for the 2005-06 season.
“It’s not an entirely bad thing,” Hjalmarsson said. “We find a way to get points in most of the games. Even on bad days when we don’t really play as good as we can, we find ways to get at least one point. A lot of teams that have a bad day don’t get any points at all. Obviously, we’re not happy with that many overtime losses and shootout losses, but it’s a positive to get points in so many games.”
Keith missed Thursday’s game with an illness. It was the first game he’s missed this season.