With all the dynamic firepower in the Chicago lineup, it makes little sense that the ‘Hawks finished at 15.2 percent this year — 26th in the NHL.
Armchair pundits have spent countless hours trying to solve the slumping man advantage, and one theory in particular always seems to get mentioned:
What if the ‘Hawks just loaded up the first unit?
Yesterday, Joel Quenneville got on board.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Quenneville stockpiled the No. 1 unit at Monday’s practice, with forwards Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews joining defenseman Brent Seabrook. Those players combined to score 27 of the Hawks’ 42 goals with a man advantage this season — the only real offensive threat not on the No. 1 unit was Duncan Keith.
The ‘Hawks realize that if they’re going to put some pucks past white-hot Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the opening playoff round, they’ll need to do it with the man advantage. It’s likely that Sharp would play one of the points alongside Seabrook, allowing the trio of Toews-Kane-Hossa to do their thing down low.
“Having Jonathan back, it gives a new look,” said Hossa, who led Chicago with nine PPG this season. “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.”
There have been times this season when Chicago deployed a more balanced approach when it came to the first and second units — but that appears to have gone out the window. The second unit during Monday’s practice was forwards Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Brunette along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya.