There are currently three teams in the NHL that have given up one power-play goal through six games this season.
The Boston Bruins are one, in 28 times shorthanded (49:53). The New York Islanders are another, in 20 times shorthanded (39:04). The third are the Chicago Blackhawks, who having been shorthanded 23 times (39:28).
The Blackhawks are 6-0 entering their game at the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night, and thus far their PK has done a ‘180’ from last season, when it was 27th in the NHL with 51 goals allowed in 233 times shorthanded (78.1 percent).
The Blackhawks' shorthanded unit winning them games. It was the reason the Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, blanking the Wings on six power plays in the first two periods.
We haven't seen a glorious kill in Chicago like this since De Niro and the baseball bat in "The Untouchables." So what’s gotten into the Blackhawks’ special teams?
Corey Crawford Is In Beast Mode. The Hawks’ goalie has been good in every situation, but he boasts a .957 save percentage on the kill, best in the NHL for goalies with four or more games played. He's also playing behind a pretty darn good blue line; Roto Arcade calls Crawford the quintessential "ordinary goalie in a super environment."
Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. Take two players primarily known for their offense, drop them down the lineup and put them on the penalty kill, and what do you get? Two really, really effective special teams players, apparently.
Kruger (3:17 TOISH/G) and Frolik (3:10) have been the Blackhawks’ primary forwards on the PK.
The Chicago Sun-Times chronicled the duo’s effectiveness, and the story behind their stellar play:
“We just try to outwork them as hard as we can,’’ Kruger said. ‘‘We take pride in doing the preparation before the game and [learning] everything about their power play. That’s an ongoing process all year, so we have to keep building on that.’’
With only five days of training camp and hardly any in-season practice time, Kruger and Frolik have spent extra hours watching video and talking with each other, hashing out the best ways to attack opposing power-play units.
“He’s a smart player, and we try to talk a lot on the ice and off the ice and try to get better every night,’’ said Frolik, who indicated their European backgrounds — Kruger is from Sweden and Frolik from the Czech Republic — has helped their chemistry. ‘‘We don’t have much time to practice those things, so we have to make sure we talk and do all those things.’’
Last year’s leaders on the PK among forwards, Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland, are on second-unit duty this far this season.
How About That Jamie Kompon? Los Angeles Kings assistant coach Kompon was hired last July to replace the fired Mike Haviland and work with Mike Kitchen. He coached with Joel Quenneville in St. Louis. He earned praise for his work with the Los Angeles Kings penalty kill, a unit that allowed just six goals on 76 chances in their run to the Stanley Cup.
Apparently some of that playoff magic traveled East to the Blackhawks’ special teams – how long can it last?