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Very quietly the Chicago Blackhawks' power play has moved into fifth place in the NHL. They are scoring at a 20.8-percent clip. It’s been a long, slow climb, and it’s not a surprise the addition of Marian Hossa coincided with the rise in ranking.
“Yeah, that’s a given,” John Madden said after practice on Friday. “When you have skill and grit on the power play you’re going to get some goals. Hossa has that. Hossa has helped our PK [penalty kill] as well. He does a lot of things for us.”
Now the Hawks can claim top-five status for both their power play and penalty killing units. The “PK” is ranked fourth in the league. No other team has both units in the top five.
“When we set out at the beginning of the season our objective was to be in the top 10 in both those groups, and if we can be in the top five that is a bonus,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Right now, that’s accomplished, but you know how streaky it can get. Good and bad stretches [happen]. It’s been pretty consistent. Our power play has gotten better, and our penalty kill has been predictable and reliable all year."
Kris Versteeg’s nine-game point streak is second longest on the Hawks this season after Patrick Kane (10). It is also a career high for him though he disputed that after the game on Thursday. “I had one, more than nine games, back in Pee Wee, but I’ll take it,” Versteeg said with a straight face.
After netting his 10th goal of the season Thursday night, Duncan Keith is just one point shy of his career high (44) set last season.
The eight-game road trip has a lot of Hawks wondering what it will be like since a trip of that length is a first for many players. Here’s Brian Campbell’s take: “It’ll be lots of TV shows and getting to know your neighbor a bit better,” Campbell said. “You get the DVD and lay back and throw on the slippers and jogging pants on the plane. Our suits are going to get some wear and tear on them coming up, and I’m sure if you catch us at the end of the road trip we’re not going to be the cleanest bunch of guys.”
Even a veteran like John Madden finds this particular trip a strange one. “I don’t think I have 16 pairs of underwear,” Madden quipped. “I’ll have to double up once or twice. You can use the hotel for dry cleaning, so it’s not a big deal.”
The Hawks announced their third annual team convention has sold out. It will take place July 30-Aug. 1 at the Hilton.
Fresh off extending team President John McDonough’s contract, the Hawks announced they have done the same with Senior Vice President of Business Operations Jay Blunk. Like McDonough, Blunk came to the Hawks after working for the Cubs. He has overseen Hawks merchandise sales increase 317 percent along with a rise of the season ticket base to 14,000. The Hawks have announced a capacity crowd in each of their past 76 home games.
For the fifth time this season, the Hawks set a television ratings record. Comcast Sportsnet announced the Hawks/Blue Jackets game earned a 4.15 rating. The previous high (3.43) was set against Boston on Jan. 7. The Hawks have experienced a 111 percent year-to-date ratings increase from last season.
Rogers will be hanging out with Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito on Saturday at the McDonald's at 3620 N. Clark Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.