Through just nearly two periods in Friday night’s game against Columbus, the Chicago Blackhawks surrendered their second power play goal, in as many attempts, driving their penalty kill percentage down to an anemic 42%. The statistics revealing just how bad it’s been aren’t encouraging. The Hawks have given up 11 power play goals in just five games, while last season they only let in 46 powerplay goals through 82 games. Dimitri Filipovic tweets a statistical breakdown of Corey Crawford’s significant dip in save percentage when the team is on the kill. His point isn’t to blame Crawford, but instead, highlight the deficiencies of his teammates on the kill.
Strategically speaking, CSN’s Tracey Myers tweets that teams are using a net-front presence to score on the man advantage, and the Hawks seem more than willing to oblige. The Daily Herald’s Jon Dietz reports that the Hawks 5-on-3 marathon against St. Louis started the slide and is a culprit in the Hawks’ early tumble:
One reason the kill rate looks so bad — it was the second-worst in the league going into Monday’s games — is because of how St. Louis took advantage of 3 penalties in 94 seconds in the opener. That led to a 5-on-3 goal late in the second period and another tally early in the third. Being short-handed for that long is not an easy task, and once a team scores it only breeds more confidence for the next opportunity — especially when that opportunity comes right away.
Dietz adds that the Hawks have done a poor job of clearing the zone, allowing teams more time to setup and prolong shifts, which leads to tired penalty killers. He also mirrors Myers’ thoughts of allowing players to camp out in front of Crawford without impediment.
Then again, should the struggles come as a surprise? Last March, CSN Chicago had a lengthy article centering on the Hawks’ problems shorthanded when they were ranked (at the time) 24th in the league. Though they were missing both Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger at the time, maybe it’s a trend that was forewarned months earlier.
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