Blackhawks notebook: Seth Jones still waiting for shots to translate into goals
Jones is shooting as much as usual and with better accuracy, but he has scored only three goals this season.
There’s nothing wrong with Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones’ shots — at least at even strength.
They’re simply not going in.
‘‘I’m playing pretty well, moving the puck well, [but] I just can’t put the puck in the net,’’ Jones said Saturday. ‘‘It’s just frustrating the hell out of me this entire year.
‘‘I’ve been having some chances here and there. I probably need to shoot a little bit more on the power play, get some action there. [It would] be nice to see a couple go in. If that happens, [my] confidence comes from there.’’
Jones touts only three goals on the season, down from five last season with the Blue Jackets and way down from a career-high 16 in 2017-18. He hasn’t scored since Dec. 2, more than three months ago.
He produced several grade-A chances Saturday against the Senators, but found himself stymied every time yet again — even while brother Caleb Jones scored twice to pass him in goals, with four.
To the original point, though, Jones’ underlying shooting statistics at even strength look great, which means bad luck probably is playing a big role in his drought.
His on-goal rate (shot attempts that aren’t blocked or missed and make it successfully on goal) of 59.1% is a career best, reflecting steady improvement over the last few years. He has averaged .026 expected goals per attempt, the second-best of his career. And he has done so while attempting 10.5 shots per 60 minutes, roughly around his career average.
Among 183 regular defensemen NHL-wide, Jones ranks ninth, 39th and 57th, respectively, in those three categories — well above the medians.
Interim coach Derek King also lauded him Saturday for his play without the puck.
‘‘Even though he’s not scoring, he brings so much more to the team,’’ King said. ‘‘[He] defends well, kills penalties [and helps] our breakouts.
‘‘There’s always pressure when you’re that type of player that you need to score all the time. But it’s like anything: When goal-scorers aren’t scoring, they better be doing all the other little things right. And this is what he does.’’
King did say he would like to see Jones shoot more on the power play. And Jones’ power-play performance is a bit more worrisome.
On the power play, his on-goal rate of 47.8% is well below his even-strength rate and down from his last two seasons. His .031 expected goals per attempt are the lowest of his career, and his 14.5 attempts per 60 minutes are the second-lowest of his career.
Among 77 defensemen leaguewide who regularly play on power plays, he ranks 44th, 55th and 57th, respectively, in those three categories — well below the medians.
Erik Gustafsson (11th, 56th and 40th, respectively) has outperformed Jones, based on those numbers. But neither Gustafsson nor Jones has scored a power-play goal, making the Hawks one of only two teams without a power-play goal from a defenseman this season.
Lafferty breaks through
Like Jones, forward Sam Lafferty had been waiting for a while for his production to start reflecting his impressive play.
That finally might have started Saturday, when he ripped through the Senators’ defense in the second period to score his third goal with the Hawks.
Lafferty also has been working with trainer Brian Keane to improve on tipping and deflecting pucks, which might be the key to jump-starting his scoring even more, given how eagerly he crashes the crease.
‘‘[It’s about] just controlling your speed on when you get to the net,’’ Lafferty said. ‘‘If you get there too soon, it’s easy for the ‘D’ to tie you up and get your stick. So maybe waiting, being a little more patient and knowing where to be [will help].’’