Blackhawks’ power play — from abominable to unstoppable — just keeps delivering
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Honestly, can we talk enough these days about the Blackhawks’ power play?
The Hawks were buried in the standings, with little more than the faintest flicker of hope, until their power play came roaring to life just before Christmas.
How does a last-place team turn its season around with an 11-5-3 stretch entering a game Thursday against the Canucks? The Hawks did it by zinging along at a best-in-the-NHL 40.4 percent power-play conversion rate (21-for-52) in 16 games since Dec. 23. They added two more in the first period against the Canucks.
Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane lead the team in goals with the man advantage with nine and eight, respectively. With Jonathan Toews, Erik Gustafsson and others piling in with production, the chemistry has been obvious.
‘‘It’s fun to be a part of,’’ Kane said. ‘‘Because every time there’s a penalty, we’re excited to be out there. We want to be a difference. We want to score goals. And even if we don’t score, everybody’s kind of pissed off because we expected to. But you’ve got to score the next one, for sure.’’
Before that? The Hawks’ special teams — at both ends of the ice — were, simply put, the worst in the NHL. Or maybe they were the worst on the planet. Kane, Toews and Co. were abominable.
‘‘For a long time, it seemed like it was so hard to go out there and make plays and find that confidence not only to score goals, but to keep the puck in the zone,’’ Toews said. ‘‘Teams could feel that. They would pressure us, and we would make mistakes.
‘‘But now we’re just relaxed more. . . . And I think when offense comes from your power play, it translates to five-on-five.’’
Defenseman Connor Murphy, who played in his 25th game of the season after recovering from offseason back surgery, is feeling good about the contributions he has made. In no particular order, they include blocking a bunch of shots, hitting anything that moves and leading the Hawks with a plus-8 rating.
The 25-year-old won’t make fans forget Niklas Hjalmarsson, but no one can deny he’s asserting himself as a force on the blue line.
‘‘I just want to work on my game and become an all-around player who can play good minutes and be trusted at any time on the ice,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m still not where I want to be. But I wanted to come in and kind of prove what I had to offer, and I hope I’m doing that.’’
Forward David Kampf will be out three to four weeks with an injury to his right foot, the Hawks announced. Kampf is thought to have broken a bone in the foot in the first period Tuesday against the Oilers in Edmonton.
Against the Canucks, Brendan Perlini replaced Kampf on a line with Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger.
Coach Jeremy Colliton said there were no immediate plans for the Hawks to bring anyone up from their American Hockey League affiliate in Rockford to take Kampf’s place on the roster.