CHICAGO -- The following words didn’t come out of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s mouth too often last season.
“I liked our power play,” Quenneville said after Monday’s practice at the United Center.
The power play was about the only area the Blackhawks didn’t excel in last season, when they ranked 19th in the league with 16.7 percentage. They went through a few successful spurts, but they failed more often than not and were constantly having to return to the drawing board.
So far, that hasn’t been the case this season. The Blackhawks have been quick to point out that it’s only been two games, but they have seen progress in their power play. They’ve scored twice on the power play, have constantly gotten pucks to the net, have had successful entries and have been able to consistently keep the puck in the offensive zone.
Last season, the Blackhawks struggled to get the power play to function that smoothly.
“We’re trying to change everything [from last season,]” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said on Monday. “We’re trying to get more pucks to the net. Make sure as far as when the puck comes to us, know what we’re going to do with it even before we get the puck. Just be quick out there, quick movement, quick plays. Things should open up for us."
The Blackhawks' desire to get shots on net has especially been noticeable this season. They’re looking less for the perfect shot and more for a shot. They averaged 1.26 shots per power play last season and through two games this season have taken 16 shots on goal for an average of 1.77 shots per power play.
Quenneville thought their power play also improved from the first game to the second one.
“I thought it was even better our second game,” Quenneville said. “I know we scored a funny goal, but at the same time I thought we were doing much more effective things as far as motion, movement, different looks and more of a shot process, and I think that opens things up. I just think there’s been better movement and more puck retrievals as well.”
The Blackhawks’ power-play struggles have always befuddled Kane, and he was hopeful they could finally figure it out.
“It’s crazy to say we’re a great 5-on-5 team, but for some reason we can’t score when they’re down a man,” Kane said. “I think all the tools are there, the ingredients, we just need to put it together.”