Film study: Blackhawks’ offensive-zone entries much improved against Canucks

After relying too heavily on ineffective dump-ins Tuesday against the Sharks, the Hawks worked in more carry-ins Thursday.

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The Blackhawks maintained more possession against the Canucks thanks to smarter zone entries.

The Blackhawks maintained more possession against the Canucks thanks to smarter zone entries.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The Blackhawks’ concerted effort to improve their offensive-zone entries translated into tangible results Thursday against the Canucks.

In their 5-2 victory, the Hawks were able to carry or pass the puck into the zone more often than they dumped it in, leading to more possession, more shots on goal and more scoring chances.

That was a huge change from the game Tuesday against the Sharks, in which the Hawks were shockingly reliant on dump-and-chase methods. They overused the conservative approach to the extent that it essentially killed their offense.

Through the first two periods against the Sharks, the Hawks attempted 31 dump-ins — ultimately gaining possession on only seven of them — against 10 carry-ins, even though they gained possession on seven of those.

But through the first two periods against the Canucks, a film review revealed much different tendencies.

The Hawks attempted 27 carry-ins, gaining possession on 18 of them and producing at least one shot on 13. On the other hand, they attempted a relatively low 15 dump-ins, gaining possession on four of them and recording a shot on two.

That means the Hawks’ overall success rate on their entries rose from 34.1 percent to 52.4 percent, simply because they focused so much more on carrying the puck into the offensive zone.

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Part of that shift toward carry-ins was surely part of the game plan, as coach Jeremy Colliton and the players alike had spoken about learning from the inefficiency against the Sharks.

But part of it also came from employing a more aggressive defense, forcing turnovers and transitioning quickly the other way. Such instances often make carry-ins easier because the opponent hasn’t had time to set up its defensive structure or neutral-zone trap.

That proved true against the Canucks, with the Hawks having a 62 percent success rate on entries after forced turnovers.

The Hawks’ dump-in rate did increase in the third period, but that was because they spent much of the last 20 minutes protecting a one-goal lead.

All in all, the shift in mentality and positive results Thursday should encourage more carry-ins moving forward.

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