The Chicago Blackhawks have a dilemma on their hands after another first-round exit from this year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Just what will it take to get the Hawks' once-dominant power play back on track?
The power play was awful this season, as the Hawks were ranked 27th overall; well below what is expected from this team. It was magnified in the playoffs when the Hawks went 1-for-19 on the man-advantage; that statistic could very well have cost them their first-round series.
Head coach Joel Quenneville tried to accept most of the blame for a lackluster power play. (Via ESPN).
“I’m going to absorb the responsibility for its ineffectiveness for the most part,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Going forward as a staff we have to absorb some responsibility but the players have to as well. …Sharing that going forward has to be important.”
It's been a mystery for the most part; many suggestions have been made by the players and fans about how to fix the power play.
Many of the Blackhawks' core suggested that they need to get more net presence in order to block the vision of the goaltender. Maybe more shots need to be directed at the net instead of another pass.
It has also become clear that the Hawks have major problems just trying to enter the offensive zone. They turn the puck over way too quickly at the blue line, leading to short-handed chances from the opponent.
The departure of defenseman Brian Campbell may have left a gaping hole that is too large to fill on the power play.
Campbell was responsible for quarterbacking the power play, setting up plays and rushing through the neutral zone while the Hawks set up in their offensive zone.
Duncan Keith simply can't replace the speedy Campbell on the back end; the Hawks need to find another puck-moving defenseman.
When it comes to who takes the blame, much of it has to rest on the players. Yes, the coaching staff of Mike Kitchen and Mike Haviland share some responsibility, but it's ultimately the players on the ice who dictate whether or not the puck hits the back of the net.
Despite that, expect changes to the coaching staff, as they will be the easiest to target and replace by the Blackhawks organization.
“All year long both coaches [Mike Haviland and Mike Kitchen] had a chance to be on both units, stints on the power play and penalty kill,” Quenneville said. “At the end of the day we’re all sharing and talking in personnel options as far as execution as well. The power play was a sore point this year. Our penalty kill wasn’t much better when you look at the standings at the end of the year. Special teams can be a differential in games, it was in the last series. We have to be better.”
A team as offensively gifted as the Blackhawks should not be talking about a lackluster power play.
But when the Hawks look back at their series against the Phoenix Coyotes, the power play will be seen as their biggest failure.
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