Blackhawks looking for answers on power play

Patrick Kane says it’s vital for the Blackhawks’ power-play unit to build momentum.
John Gress/Reuters
Patrick Kane says it’s vital for the Blackhawks’ power-play unit to build momentum.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is not bashful when doling out praise to his team’s penalty kill.

Chicago’s lights-out unit, which boasts a 93.6 kill percentage, has buoyed its run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Likewise, Kane, a mainstay on the Blackhawks’ power-play unit, did not shy away from noting its paltry production in the playoffs. With just seven goals in 57 chances (12.3 percent), it ranks fifth-worst in the postseason.


“Our penalty kill has been great all year, to the point where we’ve won a lot of games because of it,” Kane said Sunday at TD Garden. “It’s given us a lot of momentum. It would be nice to see the power play return that.

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“I think that’s one thing on the power play, if you’re not going to score, you always want to at least build momentum somehow by getting chances. You see with special teams in this playoffs, you can either get a lot of momentum off a big kill or some momentum off a good power play or scoring a goal on the power play.”

The Blackhawks were 0 for 6 on the power play in Games 1 and 2 against the Bruins, including 0 for 2 in the second period of Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss, which evened the series. Chicago had a chance to build upon its 1-0 lead when Johnny Boychuk went off for holding at 8:15.

Six minutes later, Bruin Chris Kelly scored to tie the game. With a little less than three minutes left in the second, the Blackhawks couldn’t convert after Dennis Seidenberg went to the box for tripping.

“We’ve got to play our game,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “At the same time, we felt the power play struggled, it got ignited in the Detroit series, got us going. I think you’ve got to expect at some point you’re looking for some production there.”


In the Western Conference semifinals against the Red Wings, in which the Blackhawks rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit to win in seven, they scored four times on the power play. But in the conference finals against the Kings, Chicago’s power play faltered with a 1-for-14 showing.

Success on the power play is an invaluable asset, but a lack of production is not a death sentence.

In 2011, the Bruins hoisted the Cup after scoring just 10 goals in 88 power-play opportunities (11.4 percent). In 2012, the Stanley Cup champion Kings scored on just 12 of 94 chances (12.8 percent).

Quenneville refrained from getting caught up in the numbers, but said one solution might be to simplify their game plan.

“I know that both sides, they’re looking for their power play to get some production because there’s not a lot of high-quality chances five-on-five,” he said. “But at the same time, we’ve got to look to, you know, maybe simplify it and play anything at the net, the second and third opportunities around there.


“The pretty plays aren’t there. If we think the pretty plays are there with power plays, they evaporate quickly.”

And in the Bruins, the Blackhawks may face their biggest challenge. In 18 playoff games, the Bruins have killed 51 of 58 opposing power plays.

“I think you have to give them some credit,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. “They’ve played good on the penalty kill.”

Keith said he’s encouraged by the chances the Blackhawks are generating, and that the goals will come eventually.

“The power play, it’s an area that we’re trying to get better at,” he said. “We did some good things. I think we had some really good chances there, that first power play especially [in the first period Saturday]. I know, personally, I had a chance there, and the puck just bounced over.

“Sometimes it’s just a fine line between scoring and not scoring. You know, I think the more times we can get pucks at the net and keeping it simple when things aren’t going well, I think the better off we’re going to be.”