Just imagine if the Blackhawks power play knew how to find the net. As of today, they’re sitting on top of the Western Conference standings due in large part to the best offense in the West. They’re keeping the puck out of their own net and their penalty kill is among the best in the league. Yet still, the weak power play keeps people wondering: how good can this team be?
The numbers on the power play have been ugly. The Hawks have only scored four power play goals after a month (in 45 chances). It’s shocking considering names like Hossa, Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Keith spend time on the man-advantage. That doesn’t sound like a power play that would struggle. But the fact remains that they haven’t scored a power play goal since October 22.
The players don’t sound too worried. It’s one thing to be unproductive, but it’s another thing to be ineffective. The Hawks think they’re getting their chances. Patrick Kane said, “We’re doing everything except putting it in the net.” Marian Hossa said they aren’t frustrated because they’re doing a lot of good things. So that’s the good news: they’re moving the puck around and creating prime scoring chances.
Still, it comes back to productivity. A team with the as much talent as the Blackhawks shouldn’t be rocking the 29th ranked power play in the league. Head coach Joel Quenneville understands that it’s nice to create chances, but at some point they need to start putting the puck in the net. “We’re generating but we need production,” Quenneville said. “That’s what we measure and that’s what we’re looking to attain.”
Let’s get this straight: this is a team that thinks they aren’t producing the way they think they should. If they figure it out any time soon, the people at United Center might need another copy of Chelsea Dagger. The other one might be worn out before the season’s over.
The Buffalo Sabres visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. This match-up features two teams off to slow starts and looking to work their way up the standings in their respective divisions.
You can check out the action on NBCSN or the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (7:30 pm ET).
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR
NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks
Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart
After missing the last week with an upper-body ailment, Flyers forward Michael Raffl has been placed on injured reserve.
To fill his spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier from AHL Lehigh Valley.
Raffl, 27, has appeared in three games this season, scoring once while averaging 12:21 TOI per night. He hasn’t suited up since a 7-4 loss to Chicago on Oct. 18, failing to suit up for Thursday’s loss to Anaheim, Saturday’s win over Carolina and yesterday’s 3-1 defeat in Montreal.
The Flyers are taking on Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Philly could make this IR designation retroactive to last Tuesday, which is when Raffl last played. It’s unclear how GM Ron Hextall will handle Raffl’s $2.35 million cap hit with regards to IR, but he’ll need to do some adjusting soon once injured defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Scott Laughton get back in the mix.
14 — The number of shorthanded goals surrendered by the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, this topic has been beaten to death already, but for good reason. The next highest number in the NHL is eight, courtesy the Calgary Flames. It’s just very unlike the ‘Hawks. Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, two of the best defenders in the game, have been on the ice for nine PP goals against! Jonathan Toews, one of the best defensive forwards ever, hasn’t fared much better; he’s been on for seven.
9 — The number of power-play goals scored by the Nashville Predators. A pretty remarkable stat, especially considering the Preds have just two wins in their first five games. That kind of PP production can’t be counted on to continue, so they’d better improve at five-on-five. Also, avoid the soup in Detroit. It’ll getcha every time.
17 — The total number of goals scored in all five New Jersey Devils games. And in case you thought that was low, two of those goals came in overtime. So far, the highest-scoring game the Devils have experienced was a 3-2 loss in Tampa Bay, with each of the other four finishing with a score of 2-1. Average number of goals per game this season? Just 3.4.
7.4 — The average number of goals scored in an Ottawa Senators game. In other words, the Sens have a new coach, but not much has changed. Ottawa has played five games and has yet to give up fewer than three goals. Fun to watch, though.
-7.6 — The average shot differential for the Colorado Avalanche, who’ve still managed to win three of their first five. The Avs have only outshot one opponent so far, by just two shots in their season-opener against Dallas. In their last three games, they’ve been outshot by a combined margin of 105-62. To be fair, all three of those were on the road against tough teams, but lots of work left for Jared Bednar, too.
The Sharks didn’t make many offseason splashes after advancing to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, but the one they did make — signing Mikkel Boedker — was fairly significant.
And now, the Sharks are looking to spark Boedker’s campaign.
The Danish speedster will be promoted to the top line next to Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski for tonight’s home date with Anaheim, per CSN Bay Area.
“[Boedker has] got to shoot the puck more…and he knows that,” head coach Peter DeBoer explained. “I’m not concerned about him, but the nice thing about playing with those two guys is they push you to go to the areas where you have to score.
“Hopefully that gets him going.”
One of the fastest skaters in the league, Boedker signed a four-year, $16 million deal with San Jose on the opening day of free agency. The hope was the 23-year-old would improve team speed and build upon an impressive ’15-16 campaign, in which he scored 17 goals and tied a career high with 51 points.
But things haven’t exactly gone according to plan yet — Boedker has one point in six games, and just four shots on goal.
The hope is he’ll enjoy a similar spike in production like the one Tomas Hertl had after getting promoted Thorton-Pavelski line in early January. Hertl responded with 11 points in 12 games that month, 10 in 16 games in March, and 11 in 20 playoff games.
Speaking of Hertl, he’ll drop down to center the third line — between Patrick Marleau and Melker Karlsson — for tonight’s contest.