Blackhawks Special Teams a Key Reason for Early Season Success

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/ Getty Images

Photo Credit: Bill Smith/ Getty Images

In prior seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have had little success on the power play but good success on the penalty kill. However, this year has been a different story with their success on the power play.

After losing back-to-back games to the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes and not recording a power play goal, the Blackhawks still find themselves in the top-10 for power play percentage with a 21.2 power play percentage, according to NHL.com.

Going back to the 2010-2011 season, Chicago has had one season in which they had a power play percentage above 20 percent, and that was in the 2010-2011 season when they had a 22.4 power play percentage that ranked them fifth in the NHL, according to NHL.com

In 2011-2012, Chicago had a 15.2 power play percentage that ranked them 25th in the NHL. In 2012-2013, Chicago had a 16.7 power play percentage that ranked them 18th in the NHL. In 2013-2014, the Blackhawks bumped their power play percentage up to 19.1 but found themselves outside of the top-10. They finished 11th that season. In 2014-2015, the Blackhawks finished 19th in power play percentage with a 17.6 power play percentage, according to ESPN.com.

With all the talent Chicago has had during their current run of success with players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and others, you would think this team would have great success on the power play. However, that has not been the case until this season for the Blackhawks.

Patrick Kane is the key reason for the Blackhawks success on the power play this season. On the power play this year, Kane has put the puck in the net 11 times and assisted on six goals. Other players who have contributed on the power play this season include Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Artem Anisimov, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw, Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

The Blackhawks have been an inconsistent team this season. We have seen glimpses of greatness and glimpses of the inability to put the puck in the net, especially on the road. But the power play unit has been consistent this season which is a key reason as to why the Blackhawks are 20-13-4.

Looking at the other special teams unit, the penalty kill, Chicago has always had success killing power plays over recent seasons. According to NHL.com, Chicago finished 10th in the league in penalty kill percentage with an 83.4 percentage last season. In 2012-2013, Chicago finished third in the NHL with an 87.2 penalty kill percentage. So with two out of three seasons in the top-10 in penalty kill percentage, this season the Blackhawks find themselves outside of the top-10 and currently 12th in the NHL with an 82.0 penalty kill percentage.

Even though Chicago is not a top-10 team in penalty kill percentage, they have the talent on the defensive side to get them back in the top-10. We saw Duncan Keith get hurt at the beginning of the season that hurt them early in the year when the Blackhawks had to kill power plays. Chicago has also been juggling different lineups on the defensive side because of the lack of play by Trevor Daley, who the Blackhawks ended up trading to Pittsburgh for Rob Scuderi.

Special teams is key in hockey because you have a greater opportunity to score when you are on the power play, but also you have to play great defense when you have to kill a penalty. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, special teams has been great for the Blackhawks heading into the new year and is a key reason as to why they are a top team once again in the NHL.

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