Hawks Thoughts - Hawks Special Teams Remain Rather Ordinary

When your team only manages 2 goals from its bottom six forwards against a conference rival with the second best power play in the NHL, you're generally not giving yourself a good chance to win.

The Blackhawks did just that (and then some) in "aiding" the Vancouver Canucks to a dominating 6-2 win over Chicago Sunday night at the United Center. Yuck.

Everyone knows that Vancouver has a lethal powerplay and we don't need to go into details as to why that is. Twins. Swedish Twins.

The Sedins aren't the only reason the Canucks have a fabulous powerplay, but the point is that an opposing team, such as our lovely Blackhawks, can't allow Vancouver six powerplay opportunities while continually failing at their attempts to convert their own man advantage using nothing more than a "Drop-Pass Bonanza" approach. More to the point, going 0 for 5 on the powerplay is a good indication that you've served up a good plate of loss regardless of what team you're playing.

Possibly the worst part of this whole situation is that the Hawks formerly impressive penalty kill is now a dismal 79% on the season (thanks to the stat digging by fellow Blackhawks TCL Blackhawks blogger, @HockeyBroad). There's plenty of time for that to improve, but it certainly doesn't sit well at the moment. Blackhawks' powerplay currently sits 28th in the NHL clicking at 9.4%

Is the Blackhawks season ruined? Contrary to some strange beliefs from Hawks fans on Twitter, no, in fact, it is not. Is it time to worry about the special teams? There is certainly cause for concern as there already has been. A team can still make the playoffs without a great powerplay, there were several examples of that last year. Heck, Boston had a horrendous stretch of not scoring on the powerplay in the playoffs towards the end of their cup run. But every time you fail to convert on the powerplay, you've just made it slightly more difficult to win the game.

Chicago had a great powerplay last year finishing the season with the 4th best league-wide. What if Chicago's powerplay had finished further down the rankings? Even middle of the pack? Would they have made the playoffs? Probably not. And likewise, would the Vancouver Canucks have had such a dominant season record if their powerplay was more mediocre? Probably not. There's obviously no guarantee, but you can never underestimate how much success you'll get from your power play to really put you over the edge.

The Blackhawks will be working on their special teams, more so the powerplay, over the next few practices, that you can bet on. When a team like the Blackhawks struggles so much on the powerplay, people can't help but pose the question, "With so many talented finesse players up front, how can their special teams produce such poor results?" There's generally never a real answer to this question, just that teams have to "keep at it" and "get back to the basics."

On the brighter side, it was nice to see Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik score their 2nd and 3rd goals respectively. Personally, I am hoping that Frolik will finally get a consistent look in the top 6 forwards group. He's still just 23 and I really think he could cross that threshold very soon. Moreover, Duncan Keith is expected to return to the lineup for their next game tomorrow night.

The Blackhawks take on the Blues Tuesday night in St. Louis when Ken Hitchcock makes his debut as head coach for Jaroslav Halak's squad, who will get the start, according to Hitch. The Blackhawks will need to take advantage of this transition period for a Blues team that is performing under expectations. Chicago took the season series last year 4 games to 2, making for several high scoring games.

Hey, what rhymes with Blues?


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-Matt Cefalu