Yeah, it’s time. Time for the Blackhawks to make an adjustment and move Kevin Korchinski up to the top power play unit.
Through Sunday night, the Blackhawks’ power play ranks 29th in the NHL, converting 10.5 percent of their advantages. They have scored three (3) goals at 5-on-4 thus far, which is tied with Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia for the second-worst number in the league. That isn’t good.
Korchinski has as many power play assists — one (1) — in 21:49 on the second power play unit as Seth Jones has in 44:06 on the top unit.
Furthermore, Jones has only three individual power play shot attempts in two-thirds of the team’s total power play ice time. On a unit that’s getting opportunities; the Blackhawks have had 38 power plays in 11 games, which is tied with the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Avs (Colorado has played ten games) for 16th in the league.
The eye test tells us Korchinski moves the puck quicker than Jones, and the data informs us that Jones simply isn’t helping the to unit generate enough scoring chances. Korchinski is also the better skater of the two, making him more dangerous when the Blackhawks want to enter the zone and cycle the puck.
Is there a risk in having both Korchinski and Connor Bedard — teenagers — on the same unit? Sure. But they’re both among the league’s rookie leaders in ice time per game and, with 11 games in the books, its’ clear that they’re now fully the future faces of the franchise.
If this season is truly about development and growing, let them learn together.
And if the Blackhawks want to produce more offense and be more competitive this year, it’s time to make this change and see if it turns a power play that’s getting chances more potential to convert advantages into goals.
But let’s take a moment to give Jones his flowers while we’re on the subject of special teams.
The Blackhawks have a net penalty kill percentage of 86.1, which ranks 12th in the NHL through Sunday night. Jones is skating more than 48 percent of the Blackhawks’ short-handed ice time this season; he has skated more time (30:26) short-handed than anyone on the Blackhawks’ roster. And he has the best PK goals against (1.97 per 60) on the roster. In 11 games, Jones has already skated almost one-fourth of his total short-handed ice time from 72 games last year (137:43).
He’s been good killing penalties. So why not allow him to focus on an area where he’s been given an increased roll and has excelled thus far?
Allowing Jones to focus on helping a unit that’s working well and handing the keys to the power play to the better offensive player makes a lot of sense. With the Blackhawks looking to make some improvements to get on a roll, why not make this change now?