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Blackhawks' power-play woes having trickle-down effect

Chicago Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook slides into the boards while chasing a loose puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, in St. Louis. The Blues won 3-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Despite two bad losses to two rivals, the Blackhawks’ locker room had a loose feel to it Wednesday in Columbus. Most players were joking around and playing games.

Getting them to feel that way on the power play has been a problem. The Hawks have the worst percentage in the NHL at 8.8.

The lack of success appears to have hindered other parts of their game. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Hawks have played tight, even struggling to make routine passes.

“We want to make sure we’re comfortable on the power play, that we’re looking to be part of the solution,” Quenneville said. “Whether it’s an ugly or any kind of goal, hopefully we can generate some enthusiasm off of that.

“We need some repairing of the power play; we need an ugly goal. Sometimes [that lack of success] can erode your team game, but I still think there has to be more urgency across the board.”

Sometimes the chances are there on the power play, but the Hawks are turned away by a big save or play is whistled dead. But there are other times where they can’t maintain possession in the offensive zone or simply struggle getting the puck across the blue line.

The Hawks have just one power-play goal in their last eight games, going 1-for-30. They have five power-play goals in 57 chances. Only the St. Louis Blues (four) have fewer goals but in 15 fewer opportunities.

“We’ve got to stop worrying about everything,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “We just have to go out there and play, get pucks to the net and get ugly goals. When you’re power play is struggling, you can’t look to make the extra pass to have the back-door tap-in. You just have to get pucks and bodies at the net and bang away. That’s the best way to get off this slump.”

With all their talent, it’s baffling that the Hawks haven’t been more successful. But when they won the Stanley Cup two years ago, they finished only 16th on the power play. Last year, when they needed some luck to make the playoffs, they were fourth.

This year, the Hawks have tried plenty of combinations on the power play. Their newest wrinkle is putting defenseman Steve Montador in the slot on the second unit. Montador said he played that role with the Florida Panthers.

“There are some games where we need to work a bit harder to own that puck and to work the power play,” Montador said. “We certainly have the guys to get the puck in the net. But power plays are about work. It’s about outworking the four guys.”

“[Montador has] got some bite in his game,” Quenneville said.

The Hawks need a bit of everything right now.