While we wait for the day when Joel Quenneville realizes how brutal Patrick Sharp is at the shootout, here are a couple things to chew on in the meantime.
–The Blackhawks power play. Where do we start? How about at the beginning. The Hawks are unable to sustain any kind of momentum or pressure or whatever you want to call it if they don’t win the ensuing face-off from the penalty. Why?
Well, it’s quite simple. Their breakout is all sorts of nonsense. Rather than making short easy passes to gain the blue line, they seem content to make 50 foot passes that have no chance of being completed. On the rare occasion they do gain the blue line, their next problem comes from the first play off the entry.
Whether this is a new wrinkle in their scheme, after the first pass is made, the next move by the player receiving the puck is to ring the puck around the boards. So after establishing possession and the opposition’s line, the Hawks immediately give it all back. As an aside, this backfired big time tonight when the ring-around took a bad hop on Michael Frolik and sprung the Bruins on a 2-on-1 the other way for a short-handed goal.
Of course, there are other problems with the Hawks power play. When their top unit establishes possession and actually completes a couple passes, Patrick Sharp is too busy constantly flying towards the crease. Problem there is that when he does it too quickly (which is more often than not), the opposition is anticipating it and his side of the ice is effectively shut down by the two killers on the right side.
That’s without getting into all the odd man rushes coming the other way with Sharp below the hash marks but that was so last year.
Solving this problem is probably as simple as the Hawks trying to figure out what power play unit they want to be. If they want to be a possession team, stop dumping the puck in after they establish the zone. If they want to chip and chase, then do that. Doing both, however, is not going to work.
–As for the rest of the game, each team took turns falling asleep at the wheel. The encouraging thing is that the Hawks weren’t run out of the building like the last time these teams met.