Blackhawks rolling despite inconsistent power play

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks continue to prove they don’t need a dominating power play to be successful.

They were 16th in the league with a 17.7 power-play percentage in the regular season when they went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2010. They were 19th when they captured the Stanley Cup again in 2013.

This season is following that same trajectory.

While the Blackhawks are second in the league with 45 points, their power play is far from tops. They’re tied for 17th with an 18.0 percentage.

More power-play goals would bolster their numbers, but it probably wouldn’t affect their record a whole lot. They’re 12-5-1 in the games when they have scored a power-play goal and 10-4-0 when they haven’t scored one.

While the Blackhawks would obviously prefer to score more of them, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed his team capitalized on one of its power plays in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

“It certainly helps,” Quenneville said. “I still like the way the power play was going. Had some good looks earlier on. You get some bounces by hanging around the net. But I thought we had some good looks [Tuesday], as well.”

Quenneville and his players often talk about the power play in terms other than strictly results. When the Blackhawks had gone 2-for-25 on the power play during a recent eight-game stretch, Quenneville felt like his team was enduring some bad luck more than anything else.

“I look back, our power play’s been not bad,” Quenneville said on Sunday. “The production isn’t there, but in games we’re getting the momentum. It’s continuing on. We’re generating chances, zone time. Now we just have to find a way. It’d help some guys offensively, as well.”

The Blackhawks now have scored a power-play goal in their past two games. Patrick Sharp scored on a one-timer from the left circle in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday, and Patrick Kane scored near the net for the winner on Tuesday.

Kane and Sharp have accounted for much of the Blackhawks’ power-play production this season. Each has a team-high four power-play goals. Kane has a team-high 13 power-play points and is followed by Jonathan Toews (10 points) and Brent Seabrook (eight points).

Sharp’s recent return from a lower-body injury could spark the power play. He has been the team’s most efficient player on the power play with seven points in 18 games this season. He missed 14 games with his injury. He had either a goal or assist on the Blackhawks’ first six power-play goals of the season.

Sharp was responsible for snapping a four-game power-play drought with his goal on Sunday.

“I don’t know what the slump was, but it’s always nice to score on the power play,” Sharp said. “It makes a big difference in the game when the power play can get one or two. Whether we score, we want to move around and get good opportunities.”

The Blackhawks’ issue at times is looking for a perfect shot instead of a decent shot. An example of that was when they had two 5-on-3 opportunities against the Boston Bruins last week. During a total of 1:55 of 5-on-3 time, they had 23 successful passes in the offensive zone and two shots, one of which was on net. The Blackhawks have 179 shots on goal on 122 power plays this season for a 1.5 shot average.

When the Blackhawks have taken shots, they have found production from different parts of the ice. They have scored seven goals from point shots, six off rebounds, four others from around the net, three from the left circle and two from the right circle.

The Blackhawks moved the puck a lot down low on the power play the past two games. Toews set up both goals with passes from near the right corner. Quenneville said it wasn’t anything they are looking to do every game, but instead it’s specific to those situations.

“You watch around the league, whether it’s shot originality, maybe taking it to the net is not a bad option,” Quenneville said. "It depends on what the options are, depends on how far their coverage is out. A lot of teams may have three high looks. Every game is different, every shift is different."

The same could be said about the Blackhawks' power play this season. They're still searching for consistency.