Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks' road power play tops NHL as Brouwer hangs with stars

toewscalgary.jpgAfter all the hand wringing early this season about the Blackhawks power play, let me share some breaking news with you.

The Hawks have the best power play percentage on the road in the National Hockey League at 32.3 per cent.

Let loose the balloons. Cue the clowns. Catch a ride on a tiger. The party's on.

NUMERO UNO in the power play outside Chicago. Who would have thunk it, eh?

That's what one night with four goals in five power-play chances, as they did in Thursday's 7-1 win at Calgary, will do for you. One explosive game made the special teams unit special again.

The penalty killing has already been applauded and remains tops in the league at 86.3 per cent, just a tick above San Jose. If the power play now can catch up to the PK, the Flames will not be the last team Chicago blows out of the building and made to look rinky-dink.

San Jose is also the other high-profile club the Hawks are battling for the lead in PP road percentage. The only difference is the Sharks have played 15 away games and are 19-of-61, which rates them 31.2 per cent on the power play.

The question now becomes whether the Hawks can hold down the prime location in road PP with five more stops on their trip, resuming Saturday night in Edmonton. They have played simply seven road games so far, but are 10-for-31 when they have extra skaters on the attack.

As long as they keep vying with the Sharks statistically in so many categories, those dreams of playing for a Stanley Cup championship won't subside in Chicago.

One strong performance even pushed the Hawks quickly up the league power-play ladder overall to 11th with 17 goals in 77 chances. That's a start.

Since the Oilers are last in the NHL, along with woeful Carolina, in allowing 45 goals at even strength when it's 5-on-5 and just 20th in penalty killing, you have to be confident the Hawks offense could be firing again on all cyclinders in Edmonton.

But you know how that goes. Just when you think nothing can go wrong, everything does.

No reason not to stay optimistic, though. Jonathan Toews is second in the NHL in being able to win faceoffs at 62.8 per cent, trailing only Buffalo's Paul Gaustad (66.9). Toews has a faceoff winning percentage on the road with 61.9 per cent (85-58) that almost equals the success he has at the United Center, where he has won 63.1 per cent (111-65).

Captain Consistent is plugging away again in that eager beaver fashion he does so well, keeping an even keel.

Speaking of consistency, how about Patrick Kane? He has 7 points in 7 road games, 14 points in 13 home games.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook is among the league leaders in plus/minus at plus-10, just ahead of Toews at plus-9.

Don't look now, but Cristobal Huet has worked his way to fifth best in goals-against average at 2.17.

Of course, it doesn't hurt Huet at all that the Hawks are restricting opponents to 23.4 shots a game. That's the best defense in the league.

When a team is good, playing the numbers game is satisfying. It makes math look simple. It makes everything add up nicely and convinces you there will be a net profit at the end.

Can you believe this? Troy Brouwer has 6 goals, 4 assists in 20 games after having 10 goals, 16 assists in 69 games last season.

He has 3 game winners after having no game winners last season. Who else has 3 game winners? Well, offensive superstar Dany Heatley for one.

No wonder the Hawks didn't want to trade last summer for Heatley. Who needs him when you've got Brouwer.

Brouwer has four power-play goals already, equalling his output in that category in '08-'09. He also leads the club with 49 hits, 10th best in the league, making him a powerhouse at both ends of the spectrum.

Brouwer is keeping some fast company. Other names you may have heard of who are rubbing shoulders with Brouwer with four power-play goals each: Alex Ovechkin, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Patrick Marleau, Evgeni Malkin and John Tavares.

Brouwer might rate a 10-year extension the way he's going. The Hawks have him signed through 2010-11 at $1.025 million, making him one of the best bargains on the club.

No matter where you poke and prod in the statistics, the Hawks are as exciting off the ice in black-and-white as on. Go figure.

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8 Comments

Alligator Derski said:

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One of the best things about this team is depth and there is someone new making a differene every night, on every line. The power play is going to get a major shot in the arm with the return of MH.

The thought of seeing Hossa, Kane, and Toews skating together with a man advantage is mindblowing...

Mike Kiley said:

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Call it the Snowball Express or the Mister Freeze line with a Slovak, a Buffalo lad and a Winnipeger.

iplagitr said:

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Right on, Gator. The depth is there. The Hawks are one of the best teams in the league, yet their top scorer, Kane, is only 24th on the league's point list. Then you have to go all the way to 49th and 50th to get to Sharp and Keith. They're spreading it out.

Let's hope the addition of Hossa will be as great as we all anticipate. I think it will be. Hey, we know one thing - he's going to be better than the guy with the same initials who now plays for the Wild. Havlat has 2 goals in 19 games - talk about not playing up to his salary! He's on pace for an 8 goal season!

Mike Kiley said:

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Now we know why Havlat wanted to stay in Chicago so badly. His Blackhawks teammates made him that much better. And he knew it, which is why he went down fighting and slashing.

WindyCityHockey said:

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I saw the Brouwer thing coming all the way. I watched every game of his 06-07 AHL season. You know? The one where he scored 41 goals. Or how about the 35-goal season in 07-08, no? Well, when he was in the WHL he scored 219pts in 287 games. This guy was drafted as a goal-scoring power forward. He's 24. Last year was his first full season in the NHL. You can't expect most players to be ready to go in their first year.

Also, is anyone else just disgusted with most of the mainstream coverage of the Hawks in this city? The stuff they say is just asinine. You need hockey people in those positions. I want to scream it's so bad. Thank goodness we have quality outlets like THIS blog to turn to.

Mike Kiley said:

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Thanks for the love. Covering hockey mainstream isn't as easy as you might think. You're dealing with editors who know less than zip about hockey and don't want to give you the time of day if it's not a cutesie story about Patrick Kane.

Dave Morris said:

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So, Mister Kiley, your win/loss/OTL prediction for this road trip?

Mike Kiley said:

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The next shootout can't be far away, but I'll go 4-2 and not accept a penny less.

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