Why Blackhawks promoted Kevin Korchinski to top power-play unit originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks made a few tweaks to their power-play units at practice on Tuesday, and the most notable change included Kevin Korchinski being promoted to the first unit.
"Obviously it's a privilege," Korchinski said about the move. "It means that they trust me, which is awesome. And yeah, it's an opportunity."
Seth Jones, who had been the quarterback on the top unit for the first 16 games of the season, was moved to the second unit.
"Nothing has really been clicking, so we've got to change it up," Jones said. "Kev is great puck-mover and it's just a different look for us. We want to get more shots to the net, so try to develop chemistry somewhere."
The Blackhawks rank 29th in the NHL with a power-play percentage of 11.3. They've scored only six goals on 53 opportunities, although there have been a few instances this season where the Blackhawks scored seconds after a power play expired, so the numbers don't look as favorable as they could be.
Still, the eye test tells you the Blackhawks needed to change things up, and Korchinski is hoping to bring a different element to that first unit.
"They obviously still want me to shoot the puck," Korchinski said. "We have a lot of guys who can shoot on that unit, but just play my game, move the puck well, try and use my speed on the breakouts and just try and play with good play and produce."
The zone entries, specifically, have been a challenge for the Blackhawks. It's compounded by the fact they're last in faceoffs.
Korchinski's speed is one of his strengths, if not his main asset, so we'll see how it translates as he makes the jump to the first unit.
"He’s a fast guy and all those guys are young, with good speed, and you have [Corey Perry] hat could be right in front of the net for them," Richardson said. "Those guys seem to be around each other a lot, they’re all around the same age and communicate a lot, which is huge and that’s part of the power play. It makes sense to give it a try."
The other change was Philipp Kurashev being put back on the first power-play unit and Taylor Hall dropping to the second. Kurashev has been one of Chicago's most consistent forwards this season, and the Blackhawks don't want to separate him with Connor Bedard and now Lukas Reichel, who's on the first line with those two.
The Blackhawks are trying anything and everything at this point, and it was strategic that they made the change before hitting the road for Wednesday's game in Columbus.
"They won’t hear the home fans get annoyed and impatient and yell, ‘Shoot!’ which that happens in every rink with the home team," Richardson said. "I think it lets us just kind of focus on simplicity and trying to get pucks to the net and getting bounces.
"When you watch the highlights every night, it’s very simple. It’s point shots with screens and tips and unless you’re Tampa Bay, there’s not a lot of seam and double-seaming to the back door. We have to do the same."