While the Blackhawks have shown progress toward correcting their team-defense issues, there are no signs of them fixing their next biggest problem.
What to do with this ugly and unproductive power play?
Contact information ( * required )
The Hawks finished their nine-game road trip 0-for-24 on the power play and returned home Sunday to go 0-for-3 in their victory over St. Louis.
The question is being asked all around the NHL: How does a team with such dynamic offensive stars as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, plus one of the game's top offensive defenseman in Duncan Keith, have such a bad power play?
"It's kind of unacceptable to be where we are with the skill we have," Kane said.
With as much scouting and video work done by every team in the league, it's clear the word is out on how to defend the Hawks' power play: pressure the points and everything else will collapse.
Maybe it's why Hawks general manager Stan Bowman hasn't pulled the trigger on a trade for a defenseman yet.
Perhaps he's not looking for the big and slow stay-at-home guys who already have been traded such as Hal Gill and Pavel Kubina and instead is seeking a puck mover who can quarterback the power play.
There has been some talk that Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky could be available, and the Ducks did have two scouts at Sunday's game, but there has been no connection so far to the Hawks.
Could Bowman be interested in Dallas' Sheldon Souray and his big shot from the point, or Colorado's Kyle Quincey, or Toronto's Luke Schenn? It's at least a possibility.
The Hawks last scored a power-play goal on Jan. 24 in a loss to Nashville.
"Tough stretch, tough stretch," coach Joel Quenneville said. "That's got to be something that we can rely on to ignite our offense, or score some timely goals. We'll get it right."
Meanwhile, one number Quenneville is happy about has nothing to do with the power play. It's the 7 goals the Hawks have allowed in the last four games.
"I think that, compared to what we were at, it's a marked improvement," Quenneville said. "The details part of our game has been enhanced over the recent stretch. I always think there's enough offense in our group. I see signs that everyone is committed.
"I think defensively we've been more aware. We've been better in areas, starting in the offense zone, with our commitment to positioning, not always on the offensive side of pucks."
Four games doesn't mean the defense problem is solved, but the trend is encouraging.
The Hawks will face another challenge on the defensive side of the puck Tuesday night when Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings visit the United Center.
"We really see how we need to play," goalie Corey Crawford said. "We're doing the little things right and we're not forcing anything. I think we've come a long way. I think even the last couple games we lost on that streak we were playing good hockey."