Given that the Chicago Blackhawks have so many top-end skilled forwards, you might assume that they have been great with the man advantage, but you’d be wrong. In reality, only four teams in the NHL had a worst power-play percentage in the regular season. That’s probably part of the reason Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville decided to load up his top power-play unit during Monday’s practice, rather than attempt a more balanced approach.
Jonathan Toews, who might return from a concussion for Game 1 against Phoenix, joined Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, and Brent Seabrook on the number one unit.
“Having Jonathan back, it gives a new look,” said Hossa. “We have to work hard and have somebody in front of the net otherwise it doesn’t matter who we have on the power play. It won’t work if you have a goalie like Smith in the net. We want to make sure we have traffic and keep shooting the puck maybe from the beginning.”
If Toews is available for Game 1 and no further changes are made, the Blackhawks second power-play unit is projected to consist of Andrew Brunette, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Duncan Keith, and Johnny Oduya.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Coyotes are one of the few teams in the NHL that were even worse with the man advantage this season. On top of that, both teams typically play a disciplined game. With that in mind, the squad that manages to take advantage of what power-play opportunities they’re given should have a distinct edge in this series.