Last year, when the Hawks missed the playoffs, they ranked just 24th in the league in power play conversion percentage. Currently, Chicago has the third best record in the Western Conference on the heels of their four game winning streak.
New coach Joel Quenneville is stressing the importance of solid hockey fundamentals and how Chicago has forged a winning streak by stressing good habits.
"I think every game's kind of different, but we've been finding ways to win. When games are on the line, our tendencies are doing things that lead to wins and lead to good habits, and being diligent in that area complements our team game and that's a success we can build ourselves on," Quenneville said.
At the last home game before Christmas on December 14th, the Hawks defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1, partially because their Central Division rival gave them a early holiday gift of three penalties. The Hawks converted one of three power play opportunities; and once again augmented their season percentage. (Fittingly, Santa Claus rode the Zamboni, the Ice Crew gals wore reindeer antlers and the organ blared Christmas songs aplenty during the evening).
It's very likely that opponent penalty minutes will be the gift that keeps on giving this holiday season, as the Hawks' next three Western Canadian opponents rank near the bottom of the league in that category. The Hawks will visit Edmonton (20th out of 30 NHL teams in PIM) Calgary (24th), and Vancouver (29th).