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Blackhawks Thu Oct 16 2014

Breaking Down the Blackhawks' Fire Power

Chicago Blackhawks If you watched the Hawks' 2-1 overtime loss against the Calgary Flames last night, you saw 50 shots aimed at Jonas Hiller with only one of them hitting the back of the net. Fifty shots total in one game with only one getting through -- a deflection, mind you, from Andrew Shaw via a Patrick Sharp blast from near the blue line.

When reading that stat line the next day, all one can do is shake their head and tip their cap to Hiller, who stood on his head. What Joel Quenneville and staff need to preach after such a frustrating performance is not to change a single thing, at least in terms of putting the puck on net.

It's refreshing to see how the Hawks are able to weave through traffic with all the talent they possess, Dan Carcillo not withstanding (his two whiffs on net, one point-blank, could have been the difference). Getting more shots on goal with this team could produce another Cup, it's just a matter of how quality each shot is in the moment that could make the difference of a blowout victory or a close OT loss like last night.

After last night's performance, the Hawks moved up to eighth in the league in total shots taken with 123 (funny to think they only were in the seventies prior to last night). By comparison, the Flames shot only 18 times last night, with Corey Crawford stopping all but two of them, and are only two total shots behind the Hawks with 121 on the season. (The Bruins lead the league with 146 shots on goal.)

So we saw an influx of fire power last night, which now puts the Hawks atop the league, tied with the Minnesota Wild, for shots per game/games played, which translates to 41 percent. The Hawks have played three games compared to the Wild's two games with 82 shots for, so clearly the Hawks have done more in less time than the rest of the league.

That's great news! However, what are the Hawks doing with those shots -- meaning, how quality is each shot on net compared to simply blasting the puck in the direction of the opposing goalie? Not that that's a bad thing. Putting the puck on net, regardless of where Patrick Sharp is in the offensive zone, is always going to be a good thing. It's positioning around the net for a rebound or screen that makes an abundance of shot attempts worthwhile.

With nine goals after three games, the Hawks are eighth in the league at 3.00 per compared to teams with just as many games under their belt. The Islanders lead all teams who only have played three games with 15 goals (Brock Nelson has four of those 15 goals for the Isles). This mark is measured with both five-on-five and power-play goals.

Speaking of the power play, this is where things begin to take a turn (surprise, surprise). It's no secret the Hawks' power play has struggled the past handful of seasons, which is mystifying for a team with so much talent (again, Dan Carcillo not withstanding).

So far, the Hawks are 14th in the league in connecting on the power play at 18.8 percent. Not too shabby except for when you take into consideration the amount of times the Hawks have had the advantage.

The Hawks have had the most power-play opportunities with 16 after just three games played and only have scored on three of those chances. Basically, that breaks down to roughly five power-play chances per game and only being able to score on one of those five chances per game.

With the season just barely under way, it's certainly nothing about which to find a lot of concern, but certainly something to monitor. At least it beats last year's early-season woes of not being able to hold a lead (knock on wood).

Shooting 50 times at a goalie will see the puck go through to the back of the net more times than not. Making it all come together from the forwards finding the weak and front side of the net to the blue liners working in the puck on occasion will help increase the Hawks' averages and, thus, increase their point total in the standings along the way.

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