ST. PAUL, Minn. — A little more than two weeks ago, the Blackhawks had the top power-play unit in the league — something that has carried their offense for most of the season and helped propel Patrick Kane to the best season of his career. But entering Tuesday’s game, the Hawks had gone eight games — and 23 straight power plays — without a power-play goal.
“It’s not ideal, right?” Andrew Ladd said with a sheepish grin. “You obviously want to create more. I think the tendency when you have as much skill as we do on our units is to make plays, and when things aren’t going good, you’ve got to move the puck quick and get it to the net and create things off of that. A lot of times it just takes one to get that confidence back and then we’ll roll. It’s something we need to get rolling before the playoffs. But if we’re winning hockey games, it’s not as big of a pressure point.”
Duncan Keith said the Hawks have had plenty of power-play lulls in the past, and always have worked through them. He also noted how few chances they’ve had of late — just nine power plays in their previous five games.
“I don’t think we’ve had very many power plays,” Keith said. “They haven’t been really calling too many penalties. I don’t really know why that is. Maybe it’s to let us know the playoffs are coming, and they’re not going to be calling many.”
On the flip side, the penalty-killing unit — a sore point for much of the season — has been much better lately, killing off 13 of the last 14 opposing power plays. That includes a pair of double-minor penalties called on Jonathan Toews over the last two games. Marcus Kruger’s return has made a noticeable difference.
“He leads the way in that area, and he can get our penalty kill back on the right track,” Joel Quenneville said.