A close friend who is as diehard of a Blackhawks fan as they come summed up what was bubbling up from the crowd late in the game. Especially on the power play.
“Just shoot the puck–don’t be so cute.”
Now, this isn’t the impulsive shoot-the-puck comment that impatient fans bark when things aren’t going well. It’s that the power play early on shot early and often–especially on the Connor Bedard’s goal.
Some of that was Taylor Hall making a great pass. Another part of it was coverage. But the key ingredient is that Bedard didn’t overthink it, especially if there’s a lot of ice in front of you.
“Game’s so fast, you’re not thinking about it like that,” Bedard said. “It’s rare to get that, but just how the play worked out with the battle down low.”
As for how it developed?
“I was just in alone in the slot and shot, tried to hit a spot, and fortunately I did,” Bedard said. “You don’t really get that many opportunities like that, so I just tried to make the most of it.”
The key there, of course, being the opportunities are not always so clean. Every time the Blackhawks tossed the puck on net, good things happened.
Reese Johnson’s goal? A shot from the point from Connor Murphy.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) October 22, 2023
On the final power plays late in the third, Bedard snapped the puck at Adin Hill, which was jabbed and banged at by Corey Perry in the crease. It didn’t go in, but the stark difference between the successes Chicago saw came from firing the puck at the net instead of trying to make just one more pass.
That’s not to say patience isn’t a virtue. Sometimes holding onto that puck a bit longer or zipping it around the ice works. But as Bedard answered, opportunities don’t come along all the time. He was in the high slot and fired away with no one near him. Simpler decision.
But the Blackhawks bench boss sees opportunity aplenty. But sometimes it turns out to be more situational.
Blackhawks Passing on Opportunity?
“I thought the end of the second period we had some really good opportunities there. unfortunately didn’t go in,” Richardson said. “AA (Andreas Athanasiou) had one on the back door, Tyler [Johnson] had one in the slot, I think we hit the post again tonight on that. so, we’ve just got to keep shooting.”
And when it comes to those passes?
“I’d still like to see quicker movement, more shot mentality,” Richardson said. “I think at times we had it, and at times when it doesn’t go in, they want the perfect play which, you have to go with what works.”
Precisely the point. Goals in hockey can at times just be dumb luck. Sometimes a hit here or a check there loosens the puck and a team is off the other way on an odd man rush, with a decision to pass or shoot.
The decision is made in an instant, and if it fails, is double guessed.
A powerplay run along that same thought process. Pass around with patience, finding that perfect shot. Fire at will?
What to do?
Richardson is as calm and cool as they come and his demeanor mirrors his words. Go with what works. And whatever that is, at some point it should work in Chicago’s favor–whether it’s an extra pass or perhaps just a quick shot.
Whatever it is, the Blackhawks head coach sees the tide turning in their favor.
“We’ll keep driving that home,” Richardson said. “Hopefully they fall, we get two or three one night and really build up the confidence on the power play.”