In 2012, the Chicago Blackhawks’ penalty kill failed them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They gave up 4 goals on 19 chances in a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, who entered the postseason with the 29th best power play in the NHL. The Hawks had the 27th best PK in the regular season; those struggles continues in the playoffs.
So they remedied that in the offseason, bringing in Los Angeles Kings assistant coach and penalty kill architect Jamie Kompon. After the lockout ended, they converted offensive forwards Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik in special teams defenders.
The results were stunning: The PK provided the backbone for the Blackhawks’ 24-game streak with at least one point earned, and the team gave up the fewest power-play goals in the regular season (18) while finishing with the third-best penalty kill (87.2 percent).
In the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs … well, it’s been perfect: 20 times shorthanded, 20 kills, including a perfect 17-for-17 in Round 1 against the Minnesota Wild (17.9 percent in the regular season.
Niklas Hjalmarsson (3:37 TOI SH per game) and Duncan Keith (3:27) are the primary penalty killing defensemen, with Frolik and Kruger up front. Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya typically make up the second unit D-pairing, with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa as the star-studded killers.
Potentially bolstering the unit even more: The return of defensive center Dave Bolland from injury, as he saw time on the PK in the regular season.
Where this all tracks back to, however, is Corey Crawford. He was sixth in the League (.896) in shorthanded save percentage for goalies that have at least 100 shots against.
As is the Blackhawks captain’s way, Jonathan Toews is downplaying the domination. Via MLive:
"We don't become aware of it until you say what you just said," claimed captain Jonathan Toews. "We're not thinking about streaks. When things are going well you keep working hard at it, you don't get satisfied. Keep looking for ways to improve.
That's what we've done with our penalty kill. “We definitely want to stay out of the box against this team because that's how they can gain momentum, by being on the power play. They can create a lot of chances no matter what we do but we know it's an important part of our game against Detroit.”
Chicago was 3-for-3 against the Wings in Game 1, after the Wings scored six power-play goals in 25 chances against the Ducks in Round 1.
Continuing this streak will prove difficult with the amount of firepower on Detroit’s special teams unit, but there’s no denying the PK is one of the reasons the Blackhawks could be Cup bound.
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The NHL announced the finalists for the Jack Adams Award on Friday, as Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks, Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks are up for the trophy presented to the head coach who has "contributed the most to his team's success," as voted on by members of the NHL Broadcasters' Association.
We imagine it warms Mike Babcock’s heart to see Quenneville get a nomination, being that President’s Trophy winners don’t always get the Jack Adams love. Then again, it’s hard to ignore a coach who guides his team to 24 straight games with at least a point to start the season.
It was a bumper crop for great NHL coaching performances this season, which is bad news for Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders, Mike Yeo of the Minnesota Wild, Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Babcock and especially Michel Therrien of the Montreal Canadiens.
Who takes home the Jack?
Why Bruce Boudreau Deserves The Jack
The NHL says …
Boudreau, in his first full season behind the Anaheim bench, led the club to its finest regular season in franchise history, capturing the Pacific Division title and No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with a club-record points percentage (.688, 30-12-6). The Ducks made dramatic gains over 2011-12 in several categories, climbing from 25th to third in the overall NHL standings; from 23rd to eighth in average goals-per-game (2.45 to 2.79); from 19th to 11th in average goals-against (2.73 to 2.40); and from 21st to fourth in power-play percentage (16.6% to 21.5%). Boudreau is vying for his second career Jack Adams Award, having captured the trophy in 2007-08 with Washington in his first appearance as a finalist.
There’s no denying that Boudreau’s system and style fit this group of Ducks well, especially in activating their defense as an offensive force. (Hello, career year from Francois Beauchemin.) He used his role players as well as his stars.
Why Paul MacLean Deserves The Jack
The NHL says …
MacLean guided the Senators (25-17-6) to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite the extended absence of several key players due to injury. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, was limited to 17 games; defenseman Jared Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, was sidelined for all but seven games; top forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek played in just five and 23 contests, respectively; and starting goaltender Craig Anderson appeared in just 24 games. MacLean led a youthful Senators lineup, which included a League-high 14 rookies making at least one appearance, to the top defensive record in the Eastern Conference (2.08 goals-against per game). He earned his second consecutive berth as a Jack Adams finalist, finishing third as a rookie NHL head coach in 2012.
It’s easy to say that MacLean kept the Senators afloat thanks to stellar goaltending, but then his stellar goaltender was injured too. The job he did in moving pieces around due to injury and still maintaining enough success to make the postseason was unmatched this season. Without question, the most piece of a coaching my a Bug-Eyed Walrus the NHL has ever seen.
Why Joel Quenneville Deserves The Jack
The NHL says …
Quenneville's Blackhawks posted a record start to the season by earning a point in each of their first 24 games (21-0-3), smashing the NHL's longest previous season-opening streak of 16 games set by the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07. The club went on to capture the Presidents' Trophy as the League's top regular-season club with a 36-7-5 record for 77 points. The Blackhawks ranked first overall in team defense (2.02 goals-against per game), second in offense (3.10 goals per game) and third in penalty killing (87.2%); posted a 26-2-1 mark when scoring first; and were 26-1-2 when leading after two periods. Quenneville captured the Jack Adams Award in 1999-2000 with St. Louis in his previous appearance as a finalist.
The streak mandated that Coach Q be given a spot in the top three, even if his is the deepest of the three teams represented in the Jack Adams final three.
Who Should Win The Jack Adams
The crime here is Michel Therrien not getting a spot in the final three. He took a team everyone had pegged for the lottery and won a tough division with it, while imprinting his personality on the players to give the team a new one.
Should he have won? No. The award should go to Quenneville, who had the Blackhawks on pace for a 131-point season.
Who Will Win The Jack Adams
MacLean, which is no snub to Quenneville. He guided a team devastated by significant injuries back to the Eastern Conference playoffs, and that’s a slam-dunk for voters. Plus he's sorta well-liked. Therrien, on the other hand ...
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