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Blackhawks notebook: Power-play units debut, COVID-19 caution abounds

Coach Jeremy Colliton hopes to create different identities — one based on movement, the other on shooting — for his two power-play units.

The Blackhawks have held four training camp sessions through Friday, but have just four more to go before the season starts.
AP Photos

The Blackhawks enter Saturday with only four days of training camp left.

With time running down, they gradually are focusing less on conditioning and more on strategy. On Friday, that meant plenty of special-teams practice and the debut of new power-play units.

Adam Boqvist quarterbacked the first power-play unit, with Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat as the forwards and Andrew Shaw in the net-front position.

Duncan Keith ran the second unit, with forwards Dominik Kubalik, Lucas Wallmark and Brandon Pirri and Pius Suter in the net-front spot.

The Hawks generated scoring chances on the power play at a decent rate last season, ranking 15th in the NHL in that regard, but they struggled to finish them, with their 15.2% conversion rate ranking 28th. Their 16.7% conversion rate in the playoffs wasn’t much better.

With that in mind, coach Jeremy Colliton is taking a different approach this season by establishing different identities for each unit.

‘‘We’re trying to build two [units] that are equally dangerous and maybe a little different setup, different feel,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘That group with Boqvist, they’re trying to have more of a movement power play — some interchanges, different players moving in different positions to create mismatches and passing lanes. Whereas the other group will probably be more of a shooting power play.’’

Stars, Jackets outbreaks caution Hawks

The NHL’s inevitable troubles with COVID-19 began in full force around the league Friday.

The Stars’ first three scheduled games — two against the Panthers and one against the Lightning — will be rescheduled after six players and two staff members in the organization tested positive.

The Blue Jackets’ schedule remains unchanged for now, but 19 players were held out of practice ‘‘out of an abundance of caution.’’

Both teams are in the Hawks’ division this season, making the news more concerning.

‘‘We know there’s a lot of bodies around and living in different places and traveling,’’ forward Ryan Carpenter said. ‘‘You watch the other sports . . . [and] you see that it happens. It seems like when you’re not in the perfect bubble, it’s going to happen. Whatever you can control to the best of your ability, that’s what our team’s trying to do.’’

Crawford on leave from Devils

Former Hawks goalie Corey Crawford’s new career chapter with the Devils might or might not ever be written.

Crawford, who signed with the Devils in October after an emotional departure from the Hawks, has taken an ‘‘indefinite leave of absence from the club due to personal reasons,’’ the Devils announced.

Crawford had missed five consecutive camp practices.

Hawks’ broadcast schedule complete

The Hawks announced their 2021 radio coverage, the final piece of the puzzle that is their broadcast schedule.

All 56 games will be carried on WGN (720-AM), and 41 also will be broadcast in Spanish on TUDN (1200-AM).

In terms of TV, the schedule is as follows:

NBC: Jan. 24.

NBCSN: Jan. 13, Jan. 27, Feb. 17, Feb. 28 and April 21.

NBCSCH+: Feb. 15 and Feb. 20.

NBCSCH: All 48 others.

Additionally, four NBC Sports Chicago broadcasts (March 7, March 9, March 28 and March 30) will be simulcast on NBCSN outside of the local market.