8:51 AM CST, February 13, 2013
What part of “shoot’’ doesn’t Brent Seabrook understand?
The Blackhawks' power play is back to last season’s special brand of awful, and while it certainly isn’t all Seabrook’s fault, it seems to start with him once the Hawks gain the offensive zone, and if it doesn’t start with him, then Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and the rest of that expensive unit can’t finish.
Nobody could finish much Tuesday night. The Hawks’ only power-play goal came on a knuckleball by Nick Leddy as they blew five of six power plays in a depressing 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim at home.
The Hawks still haven’t lost in regulation, but they are lost on the power play. They are excruciating.
In the last seven games, they have converted just 3 of 29 power plays, two of those goals coming during a two-man advantage. During that time, the Hawks suffered three shootout losses, so you could argue the sorry power play has cost them three points that might prove important at the end of April.
Twice on Tuesday night, the Hawks worked power plays in the five-minute overtime, if you can imagine such a thing. Twice they failed, which is not hard to imagine even though the overtime power plays were 4-on-3 advantages.
On the second opportunity, Joel Quenneville sent out Toews and Kane up front and put Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp on the points. The coach grew as frustrated as you with the ineptitude.
Despite that change, nothing changed.
There’s too much talent for the Hawks to be this bad with an extra skater. And again, I’m not dumping all this on Seabrook, but too many times, it seems, the Hawks defenseman has had the puck at the point or the top of the slot and then hesitated and looked for a pass. No. Stop. Get it and shoot it. Got it?
Even if the opposing goalie figures to see the puck because the Hawks lack net presence to start with, Seabrook and the other point men need to just shoot the puck and let the $18-million-plus collection of forwards crash the net looking for rebounds.
On the road trip -- heck, during all of their near-record start to this hurry-up season -- the Hawks were executing the kind of game plan you’d kill for in the playoffs. Their stars were playing like stars, their goalies were spectacular, their penalty killing ranked at the top, and their power play was scoring goals -- big goals.
The first three items on that checklist have remained reliable. The last one has gone pffft. Quenneville has spent the last couple weeks talking about how well everything was going. The quick-change bench artist wouldn’t change a thing.
Well, guess what? Quenneville changed assistant coaches in the offseason, bringing Jamie Kompon into the organ-I-zation specifically to coach the power-play. Time to see him coach.