Blackhawks Penalty Killing: Is It Getting Better?

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.

2 thoughts on “Blackhawks Penalty Killing: Is It Getting Better?

  • December 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    A lot of us have commented on the Hawks Penalty Kill for 2 years…their system of defence is too soft…it’s that simple…when you allow the opposition to spend 90% of the PK in your zone, with the puck, with a guy in front of the net that no one wants to deal with, then you are going to give up a lot of PK goals…

    Very recently the PK has been better, but only because we have suddenly made it difficult for teams to gain entrance to our zone…and until this change becomes permanent, then we are going to continue to struggle.

    Now, is that a coaching issue or a player issue…from my perspective it seems to be a structural coaching problem…

  • December 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

    whatever the reason is lest get it together. Theres no excuse. Lets do something about it. Have faith in the coachs and players, eventually both will do good. If not then it should be obvious where we need a change. You know were going to get another top 4 dman, if were still bad after that then change coach too. Either way we will be better, we have to god of players not to be/coachs too. Were all in this together and if someone needs to be a healthy scratch, do it. Their still part of the team, even if its a coach…

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