Penalty kill errors doom Hawks

SAN JOSE -- The norm is anything but how you would describe the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Last year it meant great penalty killing, while this year their strength was on the power play. On Wednesday night, they weren’t strong in either category in falling to the San Jose Sharks 5-2.

“I think we just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill,” Jonathan Toews said after the loss. “That would make a huge difference against a team like that. It’s normally how we find a way to beat San Jose and we weren’t good enough in both those areas tonight.”

While they didn’t have success as a group on the penalty kill -- giving up two power-play goals to the Sharks -- it still comes down to individual plays and decisions. The Hawks failed in both those categories.

Lower-rung defensemen Nick Boynton and Jassen Cullimore were the culprits, one of a poor decision, the other of poor speed. Boynton went up the middle of the ice on two plays, both of which led to goals, the second on a Sharks power play.

“The [second] one has to get down the ice,” Joel Quenneville simply stated. “I don’t think we have to make a play there.”

Cullimore played only 6:49 for the game so when Patrick Marleau went around him for a power play goal that sealed the deal in the third period, it stood out like a sore thumb.

But the Hawks don’t expect, nor pay, those players, to be major difference-makers. That’s left to the stars but when the chance was given to really get back in the game with a 5 on 3 power play, they came up short. Down two goals, late in the second period, their opportunity came for 44 seconds but nothing came of the two man advantage.

“We have to bury it,” is all Quenneville would say about what’s wrong with their five-on-threes. The Hawks haven’t scored one this season.

“Move the puck faster,” Toews said.

So the stars missed their chance and the depth players made mistakes. Other than that the Hawks played ok, particularly in the first period.

But just ok isn’t good enough these days.

“Yeah we want to be better but what are you going to do?” Toews wondered. “You going to get negative and start worrying about what you’ve done so far this season? How it’s not good? No, we’re going to keep going forward and not dwell on what’s happened.”