Coach Q tries new combos to jumpstart power play
How could a team with a collection of forwards like the Blackhawks have be in such a funk on the power play?
This is Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa we're talking about — not to mention a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman in Duncan Keith at one of the points.
"I think we're all looking for answers to that," said veteran Andrew Brunette, who owns 2 of the paltry total of 5 power-plays goals the Hawks have scored in their first 14 games.
"A lot of times when it's not working, you can work a little harder to get pucks," Brunette said. "That frustration level mounts really quick on everybody's part when it's not clicking, especially when it's expected to click."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, in his seemingly never-ending quest to find the combinations that work, was at it again at practice Monday, mixing and matching his first and second power-play units.
Brunette was in front of the net on the unit with Toews and Viktor Stalberg, with Brent Seabrook and Sharp at the points.
The other unit featured Daniel Carcillo in front of the goalie with Kane and Hossa as the other forwards, and Keith and Nick Leddy at the points.
Quenneville wants more shots at the net and more traffic in front from the likes of Brunette and Carcillo.
"A couple guys that made our power play successful are guys who just stood in front of the net and everything else evolves around that," Quenneville said, recalling the days when Dustin Byfuglien and Troy Brouwer did that. "Otherwise you're looking for the perfect play, and perfect plays just aren't going to exist. If you have traffic and our thought process is pucks, off of that a lot of things can happen."
The power play sat 28th in the NHL rankings Monday, but despite its struggles the players maintain the belief that better days are ahead.
"We know we have good players on the power play," Hossa said. "I just feel like the urgency can be a little bit higher. We can't panic because we have lots of skill. We can create lots of quality chances. We just have to put it together and create those chances and maybe score some ugly goals."
"We've got skilled players out there that have had success on the power play before, so it's just a matter of getting on a roll," Sharp said. "I don't think it's a matter of confidence out there. We all believe we can do it."
The first 45 minutes of Monday's practice were devoted to the power play with Quenneville encouraged by what he saw.
"I liked our power play today," Quenneville said. "It had some intensity on it. When we practice it, it's tough to get it up to the game pace mentality, but I thought the whole practice we had an attitude where, 'Let's get it done.'"
While assistant coach Mike Haviland did most of the teaching during the breaks in practice, Quenneville makes the final calls when it comes to the power play — not Haviland or Mike Kitchen.
"We all share responsibility," Quenneville said. "I'll take the hit."
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