First unit changes aim to spark life into dull Hawks power-play
The Chicago Blackhawks currently rank 29th of 32 NHL teams in power-play percentage. The Hawks come in with a poor 11.3% conversion rate. The only teams worse in this category are Columbus, St. Louis and Washington. It is one area this Blackhawks team has struggled with a lot early on this season.
They’ve scored only six goals on 53 opportunities. There have been a few times this season where the Blackhawks scored a few seconds after a power play ended, so the numbers don’t look as favorable as they could be.
New first line changes for the power-play unit by Luke Richardson hope to address the weak power-play issue, by moving up Kevin Korchinski.
Kevin Korchinski secures top spot on power-play unit
Kevin Korchinski is replacing veteran defenseman Seth Jones on the primary power-play unit. Here is what power-play one and two will look like going forward.
— Jay Zawaski (@jayzawaski) November 21, 2023
Another change made 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 consistently productive 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.
Seth Jones and Luke Richardson provide explanations for the power-play changes
Seth Jones was asked about Kevin Korchinski moving up to power-play line one and replacing him, Jones had a great response.
“Nothing has really been clicking so we’ve got to change it up. Kev is a 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.”
Jones may not provide everything on the ice Blackhawks fans expect based on his salary. However, you can’t deny he is the ultimate team player. Jones frequently vouches for other players on the team, and is one of the first to jump in and provide the young guys with tips.
Luke Richardson provided his thoughts that led him to moving Kevin Korchinski up to power-play one.
He’s a fast guy and all those guys are young, with good speed, and you have [Corey Perry] that 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.”
Richardson continued to mention the issue of not shooting the puck, and how fans have been clamoring for the team to shoot the puck.
“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.
Kevin Korchinski responds to his promotion
“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.”
What Korchinski brings to power-play unit one
The zone entries, specifically, have been a challenge for the Blackhawks. It’s compounded by the fact they’re last in faceoffs.
Kevin Korchinski brings multiple things to the primary power-play unit that have been largely absent. One of those things is brining the puck into the offensive zone with speed. That is one of his biggest strengths, if not his main asset, so we’ll see how it translates as he makes the jump to the first unit.
Return to action
The Blackhawks are trying anything at this point. The Blackhawks travel to Columbus for a match with the Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
The Blue Jackets are the fourth best team in the NHL at the penalty kill. The Blackhawks had to make a change if they want a chance to score power-play goals against Columbus.
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