Many Blackhawks fans have pointed at special teams as the crutch for some of the team’s failures this year.
In October, the power play was considered an epic disaster that was referred to as “clown shoes” more often than it was said to be “effective.” But since Nov. 1, the Blackhawks are converting 26.7 percent of their power plays; in fact, since an 0-9 stretch against Vancouver and in St. Louis early in November, the Hawks are scoring on 31.3 percent of their power plays.
Since the power play has found it’s footing, the penalty kill is now receiving its share of blame for the Blackhawks struggles. Is it really a problem?
After Sunday night’s shootout loss, the Blackhawks are now ranked 29th in the NHL on the penalty kill, just ahead of the San Jose Sharks. Chicago is killing 75.3 percent of their opponents’ advantages, a sad number from a team that has been excellent on this special teams unit in the recent past.
But that is a number that reflects the entire young season. At this point in the season, a bad game or two can inflate or deflate a number dramatically.
Since the Hawks’ win in Vancouver to start the Circus Trip, they have killed a mediocre 73.3 percent (eight goals allowed in 30 power plays). However, half of the power play goals they have allowed in those ten games were in the debacle in Edmonton.
If we remove the Edmonton outlier from the equation, the Blackhawks have killed 82.6 percent (19 of 23) of their opponents’ power plays since the beginning of the Circus Trip. Furthermore, they have killed 81 percent (17 of 21) since the Edmonton game.
The Blackhawks are also tied for the NHL lead with five short-handed goals (with Carolina and Minnesota). Chicago has scored two short-handed goals in their first three games in December (one by Jonathan Toews, one by Marian Hossa).
Special teams have had their bad (awful) moments for the Blackhawks this year, but they’re both trending in the right direction.