Blackhawks’ drought of no power-play goals by defensemen lives into 2023
It has been 122 games since a Blackhawks defenseman scored a power-play goal. A particularly dismal power-play performance Saturday — 0-for-5 with two short-handed goals allowed — guaranteed the streak will extends into its third calendar year.
The streak has lasted so long that it almost has been forgotten. But it still exists.
Indeed, the Blackhawks have gone 122 consecutive games without a defenseman scoring a power-play goal.
Connor Murphy was the last to score one, doing it May 1, 2021, against the Panthers. Last season, the Hawks became the first team since the 1970-71 Sabres to go an entire season without a defenseman scoring on the power play. And 35 games into this season, the Hawks are on pace to be blanked again.
Seth Jones has produced some decent chances to snap the drought this season. He has 33 shots and eight scoring chances on power plays. Other Hawks defensemen, primarily Caleb Jones, have added 24 shots and another eight scoring chances.
But with no luck Saturday against the Blue Jackets, the streak now has stretched into 2023, its third calendar year.
Saturday was a rough afternoon all around for the Hawks’ power play, which went 0-for-5 and allowed two short-handed goals (although one was an empty-netter). The power play enjoyed plenty of zone time and ripped off 15 shots and five scoring chances, but to no avail.
That was disappointing, given the progress the unit demonstrated Thursday against the Blues, a night highlighted by Patrick Kane scoring at the end of one of the Hawks’ best power plays in recent memory.
The key was the movement of the players, as well as the puck. Kane, Seth Jones and Max Domi rotated around and spent different times as the quarterback at the top of the zone, preventing the Blues’ penalty kill from settling into a structure.
‘‘We were moving it quick,’’ Seth Jones said. ‘‘It hasn’t been that way this year for some of the time. But we were all in different positions, moving around, reading off each other and moving the puck.’’
The Hawks’ power play has fallen to 24th in the NHL with a 16.2% net conversion rate this season.
Stalock pulling away
In October, it looked as though Alex Stalock was pulling away with the job as the Hawks’ starting goalie before his much-discussed concussion knocked him out of the rotation entirely.
Now Stalock might be pulling away with the starting job again. Coach Luke Richardson awarded him a second consecutive start Saturday, and he again played well in tough circumstances, making 34 saves on 37 shots.
‘‘[Given] the shot attempts and the workload he had [today], he gave us a chance to win when we weren’t very good as a team,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘He’s a big part of our team right now.’’
Added forward Andreas Athanasiou: ‘‘He made some really unbelievable saves to keep us in that game. It would’ve been nice to help him out a little more, but he was huge back there.’’
Petr Mrazek likely will start Sunday against the Sharks because of the back-to-back, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stalock handle the majority of games moving forward. Sunday marks the start of a seasonlong seven-game homestand.
Jones cheered, Domi booed
Former Jackets-turned-Hawks Seth Jones and Domi received drastically different reactions during their returns Saturday to Columbus.
Jones, whose planned first game back in January 2022 was thwarted by a positive COVID-19 test, heard hearty applause.
But Domi, whose pre-Christmas joke about his family never visiting him for the holidays in Columbus ruffled many feathers, heard an even heartier round of boos.