ST.PAUL -- Many fans joke that the Chicago Blackhawks should decline power-play chances when they come their way. The way the Hawks were talking after their frustrating 2-1 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.
The Hawks had 11 minutes with the man advantage time and did nothing with it. In fact, they were dominating the game, leading 1-0, until a five-minute major penalty was called on Minnesota’s Nate Prosser. It should have been game, set and match against the lowly Wild, right?
“You lose a little momentum there,” coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. “I thought we had a good game going until that point. We didn’t generate quality chances at all in that area…I thought we got away from the intensity on the power play, looking for an easier look as opposed to the intensity that is needed. We got a little bit too casual.”
The thought that a five-minute power play would derail a good game is mind boggling. But then again so is the Hawks power-play unit.
“One thing we could be better at is when we create and get a shot away we need to give each other outs and scramble a little better as far as keeping plays alive,” Duncan Keith said. “We seem to lose a lot of momentum when we don’t get the puck back off the boards.”
That points to the lack of intensity Quenneville was talking about.
The shootout loss isn’t important. As of next week -- when the playoffs begin -- there are no shootouts. The lack of a shutout all season is also inconsequential. But special teams? That’s the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs.
“The power play wasn’t very good,” Patrick Kane said. “That five minutes. You want to get something off that…It’s a big part of the game. Everyone knows that. Hopefully we can figure it out before playoffs.”
Time is running out. And to add insult to injury the Hawks gave up a power-play goal with just 3:12 remaining to ruin the shutout and eventually lead to the loss. Minnesota spent three minutes with the man advantage while the Hawks were racking up the chances.
“Same way it’s been going second half of the year so we have to get it going if we want some tight games in the playoffs,” Viktor Stalberg. “That’s going to be a crucial part of the game. We have one more chance to work on it on Saturday. We have to find a way to score.”
That’s the understatement of the season.