Blackhawks’ power play will look a lot different on the wings next season

The Chicago Blackhawks have already made a lot of changes this offseason in hopes of finding more success in the postseason. While bringing back stars from previous lineups such as Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp, the Hawks have lost a lot of players, too, both new and old. Dependable winger Marian Hossa will be unable to suit up this year because of medical issues while Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson were sent to other teams.

Hopefully these changes can help the Hawks make their way back to the final rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it will be interesting to see how they affect Chicago’s power play. I’ve been collecting more data on the Hawks’ special teams play and these moves should have big implications for the team’s power play performance.

Since Hossa and Panarin will no longer be with the team, I wanted to see what kind of impact they had on the power play throughout the year. To do this, I looked at how the Blackhawks’ power play performed with them on and off the ice. While I’ve tracked other components about the Blackhawks’ power play, I narrowed down the metrics I looked at to only a few that I felt were most important.

Controlled% is the percentage of zone entry attempts that were a controlled entry while Success% is the percentage of zone entry attempts where the puck successfully entered the zone. Time in Zone is the total time the puck stayed in the offensive zone, and scoring chances are counted as any shot attempt inside the home plate area.

With/Without Hossa

TeamControlled%Success%Time In ZoneShot AttemptsScoring ChancesShots
With Hossa0.6170.912 seconds0.6570.30.257
Without Hossa0.7430.8714.1 s0.7930.3190.483
Team Avg.0.6930.88314.4 s0.7430.3180.399
League Avg.64%86%14 s0.760.3050.37

Even though there’s no denying that you’d rather have Hossa on your team than not have him at all, surprisingly he put up very poor numbers on the power play. Despite getting the fifth-most power play time out of all forwards in Chicago (behind Kane, Panarin, Toews, and Anisimov), Hossa had the lowest amount of power play points since his rookie season in 1998. And that’s with barely any decrease in power play time from last year.

But besides his individual stats like goals and assists, the Blackhawks as a team fared much better at 5v4 with Hossa off the ice than with him on the ice. Even though Chicago did slightly better at entering the offensive zone with Hossa on the ice, they were not nearly as capable of keeping control of the puck. With Hossa on the ice, only 61.7 percent of all entry attempts were controlled, as opposed to the 74.3 percent of controlled entries attempted when he was not on the ice.

Chicago also performed much better in the zone once it got there without Hossa, as it generated more shots, shot attempts, and scoring chances on average than it did with him on the ice.

Not to mention, the Hawks also averaged an extra two seconds in the offensive zone when Hossa wasn’t on the ice. Even though Hossa was an important part of the Hawks’ lineup throughout the season, he seemed to have a negative impact on the team at 5v4.

With/Without Panarin

TeamControlled%Success%Time In ZoneShot AttemptsScoring ChancesShots
With Panarin80.60%90.30%15.5 s0.9060.3760.496
Without Panarin53.40%86.20%9.6 s0.4640.2030.232
Team Avg.69.30%88.30%14.4 s0.7430.3180.399
League Avg.64%86%14 s0.760.3050.37

Even though Hossa seemed to be a drag on the Hawks’ power play, the differences with Panarin on and off the ice are incredible. Panarin’s been an important offensive contributor for Chicago since he arrived and it shows on the power play, where he scored nine goals and eight assists this season. Given the third-most power play time out of all Chicago players and second-most out of all Blackhawk forwards, Panarin was an integral part to the Blackhawks’ power play.

With Panarin on the ice, the Hawks successfully enter the zone 90.3 percent of the time, doing so with control 80.6 percent of the time. However, when Panarin was not on the ice, the Hawks only successfully entered the zone 86.2 percent of the time and only did so with control 53.4 percent of the time.

They also did significantly worse in the offensive zone, generating a lot less offense with Panarin off the ice. While with Panarin the Blackhawks averaged .906 shot attempts and .496 shots per entry, without him those numbers plummeted to .464 shot attempts and .232 shots. Scoring chances also took a nosedive and the Hawks averaged around six fewer seconds in the offensive zone with Panarin off the ice.

While losing Hossa on the power play won’t hurt the Hawks, shipping out Panarin to the Blue Jackets may have only caused the 19th-ranked power play in the league to get worse. I can’t say how well Saad do when he’s put back on the power play since I don’t have any data on him but it will be hard to replace what Panarin brought to the table. Panarin had a great impact on the Blackhawks power play but, while it will be hard to replace him, hopefully Saad will be able to fill in on the first unit.