The Blackhawks stumbled out of the gates this season after finishing with an 0-3-1 record on their four-game road trip.
On Friday, the Blackhawks returned to the United Center for the first time since March 11, 2020 and picked up their first victory of the shortened campaign with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. They were one of two teams going into the weekend without a win yet — the Dallas Stars were the other, but that’s because they had their first four games rescheduled because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
But there’s been one big positive in the early going: The power play.
The Blackhawks have scored at least one goal on the man advantage in each of their first five games, which is tied for the third-longest streak to open a season in franchise history. They also have a 41.2 percent success rate, which ranks No. 2 in the NHL; only the Toronto Maple Leafs (44.4) have a higher percentage.
One of the reasons behind the hot start? The Blackhawks have two units generating chances.
“That’s the key right there, you’ve got both units going,” Patrick Kane said. “It helps a lot, no matter who’s starting, if the other one’s ready to go. It’s been good. On our unit, just the movement, in general, has been a lot better, just the way the hands are set up, especially for me when I have the puck. It’s been good. Good start, just want to continue it, not be satisfied with where we’re at and keep getting better.”
It’s a significant development because the Blackhawks had the fourth-worst power-play percentage last season at 15.2, and it took them 15 games before they scored seven goals. Well, they already have seven through five games this season.
It’s going to be a challenge for the Blackhawks to score at even strength with the absences of Kirby Dach, Alex Nylander and Jonathan Toews and we’re already seeing that. Only four of their 13 goals have come during 5-on-5 play, which is the second-fewest in the league.
The Blackhawks need their power play to be productive and, at the very least, it can’t be a momentum killer like it was last season.
“We’ve been using it to get back into games,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the power play. “We certainly want to produce more at 5-on-5. … The power play, of course, has been a bright spot. We want to keep that going. We want both units to feel like when they go over the boards, they can change the game for the team.”
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