The Chicago Blackhawks have been enjoying some well-earned rest over the past few days, but they will hit the ice again on Friday night when they take on the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center.
While the team is in prime contention to gain the top seed in the Western Conference, there are still tweaks to be made in a couple of areas. One of the prime issues the team needs to address is their power play, and they did that on Thursday during practice as Andrew Shaw was bumped from the rotation.
Shaw, who has been skating with the first power play unit for a good chunk of the season, was knocked completely out of the 10 players who comprise the Hawks’ man-advantage group. In his place on the top line is Brent Seabrook, who will hold down the point along with Duncan Keith. Jonathan Toews will likely take over as the man in the middle for Chicago, tasked with creating screens and grabbing rebounds off shots from the point. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp will man the slot and will also drop down near the goal line in order to spread out the opposing defenders.
The second power play line will feature David Rundblad and Brad Richards on the point, with Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa, and Bryan Bickell serving as the forwards.
That change to the power play rotation is notable because of the emphasis it puts on two players who will be taking on new roles. Sharp has played the point through much of the season, but now he will be responsible for moving the puck around the zone and creating scoring chances in near the net. Rundblad will also be in a new role as the point man on the power play, and especially against an aggressive team like the Jets, he will have to be careful to take care of the puck out at the blue line to prevent short-handed chances.