Michael Frolik would not go as far as to say he was rooting for the Blackhawks to take back penalties in the dream season of 2013. But it was not exactly overwhelmed by them, either.
Every trip, every hook, every bend and every bit of interference was a chance for Frolik and Marcus Kruger Jersey – Batman and Robin the penalty kill Blackhawks – to jump on stage and do what they do better. They are not only confident, they were arrogant in the limit. Each penalty put the dynamic duo in the spotlight, and they enjoyed each one.
“He was our main work at that time, and we were happy to go on the ice and kill for the team,” said Frolik Monday morning the lodge visitors to the United Center. “When you can help the team like that, it’s always nice. you feel like you’re a part of it, and it’s great. ”
The atmosphere is very different on the Hawks bench these days. Each penalty feels like a goal against before the puck even drops. Trust is completely shot. Even stalwarts like killing penalties Kruger and Duncan Keith are getting burnt game after game after game.
If ever the Hawks were going to get their trust – and maybe even their mojo – back he was going to be on Monday night against the Calgary Flames of which were terrible on the power play the Hawks were on the PK. Yet the Flames, 1-of-25 with the man advantage entering the game, scored 39 seconds in each of their first two games of power and went on to win 3-2 when Kris Versteeg scored the only goal of a shooting seven rounds.
Developed second goal of the night Flames power play, the Hawks had abandoned an unconscionable 14 goals on 23 opposing power plays. For some perspective, this 2013 team gave up only 18 goals in game in 141 chances.
“Just seems no matter what, he finds a way, a different way each time,” said Joel Quenneville.
“It just seems to find its way to the back of the net, if we do a little mistake,” said Jonathan Toews.
A strong penalty killing can mask many other problems. It is no coincidence that the Hawks had “PKs elite in both 2013 and 2015, and struggled last season.
“I do not know what is going on there right now, but I remember that we just had a great structure and we have always been on the same page,” said Frolik. “Everyone knew that we were doing on the ice. Krug and me, we just talked a lot about it. Every time we knew where the puck is, what we should do and what position we should be. We did a very good job. He was working. And once you kill a little, you build trust, and that’s a big part of it, too. We just built this year, and it was something special. ”
On the other hand, the Hawks have killed three straight penalties – including a double minor for high-sticking Tyler Motte, who was paired with Kruger on the top PK unit – after giving up two quick goals set power. The successful first victim of the night was greeted with mock cheers from the frustrated crowd. Any progress, no matter how small, no matter how weak opponent, is encouraging at this stage.
“We had better pressure, we won some involved, had better erase, do not give them easy entries, [and had] more puck pursuit when it was time,” said Quenneville.
Flames started the game at 4:51 of the first 39 seconds after Motte took a tripping penalty. Corey Crawford stopped the shot Dougie Hamilton developed, but both Micheal Ferland and Sam Bennett behind Keith Bennett in the goalmouth and pushed the puck across the goal line.
Patrick Kane tied the after sales horrible Flames defenseman Deryk England basically handed the puck to Artem Anisimov, who sent a cross-ice pass that Kane a timed past Brian Elliott at 1:32 of the second period. Anisimov now has four goals and five assists in seven games.
But a roughing penalty Richard Panik five minutes later, led to a goal by Sean Monahan game 39 seconds later, again on a rebound off a Mark Giordano shot from the top of the circle. The Hawks have killed off the next three, however, remain within striking distance until the center of the pass Brian Campbell came off defender Brodie stick T.J. Flames to tie the game at 2-2.
Crawford was again spectacular in game 5 against 5, including huge stops on Kris Versteeg and Johnny Gaudreau, among others, and has allowed only three goals at even strength throughout the season. The former Blues goalie Brian Elliott corresponding to the stretch, including a skate blade to save on Panik in the final seconds that sent the game to overtime.
“He played well,” said Kane Crawford. “You feel bad that we do not do much in front of him and help him get some wins. We have to play better in front of him, for sure.”
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