Blackhawks eager to snap out of funk on power play
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WASHINGTON — As they wallowed through lengthy scoring droughts earlier in the season, seasoned goal-scorers such as Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp frequently talked about confidence, how seeing one puck go in can have a profound effect on a player’s mindset and lead to a deluge of goals.
Power plays work the same way.
“We’ve got to have the confidence every time we go out there that we’re going to do something good,” Kane said before Wednesday’s game against the Capitals, with the Blackhawks mired in a 1-for-17 slump on the power play.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going as well, it’s easy to grip the stick a little bit tighter and just hope it goes well. . . . It’s all about confidence and being confident with the puck when you get it. A lot of us do a lot of good things 5-on-5. There’s no reason we shouldn’t do that with the man-advantage.”
A power-play goal here or there over the last week and the Hawks probably aren’t riding a four-game losing streak into Washington. The power play was dreadful to start the season, then got hot with eight goals in a six-game stretch, and now has gone in the tank again. Duncan Keith said it’s important not to dwell on past failures.
“When it wasn’t working, it just seemed like we beat ourselves into the ground and were overthinking it sometimes,” Keith said. “Power plays get hot, and they can go cold. . . . We’re not going to score every power play, every game. We hit the crossbar last game [against the Kings], we almost had a goal. It doesn’t matter if we get four power plays and three and a half are bad. If we get a goal, that’s the difference, right?”
One relatively new wrinkle this season has been Kane manning the point on occasion. Kane has spent most of his career directing the power play from the half-wall. This season, he’s moved around a bit from the wall to the point and back. He said that’s less by design than it is a product of trying to remain in constant motion during the power play.
“I don’t know if we’re really setting it up any which way,” Kane said. “I think we just want to have a lot of movement. Wherever someone ends up, be comfortable in that position. I’ve obviously played the half-wall for a lot of my career, so I’m a little bit more comfortable there. But if I get on the point, I’ve been there enough where I kind of can have some confidence making some plays and try to open things up there, too.”
Corey Crawford skated back in Chicago on Wednesday for the first time since being put on injured reserve with a nagging lower-body injury. Crawford is eligible to return Friday against the Buffalo Sabres, but coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes was a more likely target.
Stars in his eyes
Alex DeBrincat is only 19 years old, so it’s easy to imagine him getting a little star-struck when he looks up at a faceoff and sees Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin looking back at him or the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby. But 28 games into his NHL career, DeBrincat is over the awe.
“Not so much anymore,” DeBrincat said. “We have a lot of those guys in this room, so you kind of get that out of the way quick. But it’s definitely cool to be able to go up against them.”
Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus.