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Article updated: 9/26/2013 8:29 PM

Hawks look for fresh start on power play

By Tim Sassone

While the power play was dreadful for most of last regular season and even worse in the playoffs, the Blackhawks managed to win their second Stanley Cup in four years.

The players vow to be better this year, but a 1-for-23 preseason has raised concerns, which defenseman Duncan Keith says could be erased as soon as Tuesday's season opener against Washington.

"I think we're going into this year with a whole fresh mindset," Keith said. "What happened last year on the power play is last year. This is a new year, but at the same time there are things we can work on.

"We haven't played a game yet, so let's relax a little bit about the power play. As players we all want it to be good and we all want to score goals on it and help create some offense.

"But it's just a matter of building right from the start and getting the foundation of the power play, and I think that starts with getting more shots and keeping it simple."

As the quarterback of the power play from the left point, it's understandable why Keith gets so defensive about its lack of production. It's his job to distribute the puck and make sure either he or Brent Seabrook gets their shot through to the net.

"You have to understand that as a shooter, you have to get in the spot to shoot it," Keith said. "It's easy to look up and say why didn't he shoot that puck, but if your body position is not in the place to shoot it where it's a one-timer, you need to be in a one-timer position.

"You can complicate it as much as you want, but at the end of the day it's moving the puck quick and not hanging on to it. If you hang on to the puck too long then the other guys on your team don't know what to do and the penalty killers can get set.

"So quick puck movement, lots of shots and keep it simple is the way to go."

The Hawks have some of the most dangerous offensive personnel in the NHL, so it's puzzling why their power play ranked 19th last season with a 16.7 success rate before dipping to 11.4 percent in the playoffs.

"It's something we want to be better at this year," said winger Patrick Kane, who can be as explosive an offensive force as there is in the league. "It's something we've got to practice. We didn't practice it much last year with the schedule we had. It's an area that needs to be better, and I think we all know that."

Keith isn't worried that the poor preseason production on the power play will carry over into the regular season.

"Obviously, the power play is a part of the game and it wasn't that good last year and we still found a way to win," Keith said. "There's always a focus on it. I'm not saying that there's something we need to be concerned or worried about.

"That's not a good mindset going into the season. You want to have a mindset that it's a new year and let's go out there and play and have fun on it.

"This year we have to have the mindset just shoot the puck and have a carefree attitude. Go have fun because it couldn't get any worse. We have the players in the room to do it and the coaches give us structure. It's a matter of us players executing it and going out and doing our job."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is hopeful things will be better on the power play so he can stop answering questions about it.

"We're going to rely on our power play," Quenneville said. "We have the personnel where it should be better."

ŸFollow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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