Chicago’s powerless power play — it’s a problem


It looked like 2011 all over again.

Midway through the first period of Boston’s 2-0 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins forwards Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton took less-than-genius roughing penalties, giving the Blackhawks four minutes of power play time.

And — much like what happened repeatedly against Vancouver two years ago — the penalties didn’t cost the B’s.

Some will say the Bruins killed ’em with aplomb, others will argue the ‘Hawks frittered ’em away. But whatever the case, one thing is crystal clear — if Chicago doesn’t start scoring on the power play soon, its going to be in major trouble.

In the 2011 Cup Final, Vancouver went a ghastly 2-for-33 on the power play and the deeper the Canucks’ struggles went, the more the Bruins took liberties, often risking a penalty to impose their physicality.

The risk was worth it ’cause hey, killing the penalty was a virtual lock.

While it’s not quite to that level in 2013, it’s close.

The ‘Hawks were 0-for-5 on the power play in Game 3. That puts them at 0-for-11 for the series and zero for their last 15 all told.

Head coach Joel Quenville was visibly displeased following the game.

“Our power play tonight was definitely not good,” he said. “[The Bruins] box you out. They’ve got big bodies that block shots.

“We had chances to get pucks on the net, and we didn’t. Our entries weren’t great.”

Some other gruesome statistics:

— Chicago’s PP is 1-for-27 on the road in the playoffs.

— Patrick Kane led the team with eight PPG in the regular season.

— He has zero this postseason.

— The ‘Hawks registered just four power play shots in Game 3 on 8:11 of PP time.

— Chicago’s PP is now at 11.5 percent (7-for-61) for the playoffs, worse than its PP in the regular season (which, at a 19th-best 16.7 percent, wasn’t that great.)

On the flip side, the Bruins deserve a ton of credit for how well they’ve killed penalties. The last time they allowed a PPG was in Game 5 of the Rangers series, and have killed 25 straight since then.

But if you’re Chicago — well, you just have to make something happen with the man advantage.

The Bruins are one of the NHL’s best teams at even strength, and they’ve shown it this postseason. They lead all teams with 43 goals 5-on-5, and have only allowed 27 — a differential of plus-16.

The key to beating Boston is to make them pay for mistakes.

If the ‘Hawks don’t start doing it soon, they’re going to get Canuck’d right out of this series.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen