CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been brilliant when the opponent has more players on the ice.
That statement is beyond repute at this point in 2012-13. The Blackhawks were third in the NHL in penalty-killing proficiency during the regular season, and they've turned up their PK a few more notches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Through 16 games, the Blackhawks have erased 54 of 56 power plays (96.4 percent). Chicago's PK prowess is a big reason the Blackhawks can return to the Stanley Cup Final by beating the Los Angeles Kings at United Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
The Kings have managed one power-play goal in four games -- and that one was a meaningless score after the outcome of Game 2 had long since been decided.
"I think they do an excellent job of blocking shots. I mean, that's plain and simple," Kings forward Justin Williams said Friday. "They get their bodies in shot lanes and you can sometimes fake that you're in the shot lanes when you're actually not, but they're in them every time. They're manning-up and getting behind them.
"We're getting a lot of zone time on the PP. I think we've only had one goal to come of it. We haven't scored a big power-play goal yet. Getting through the first layer is important because we've had a lot of possession time, a lot of zone time, but just getting it through their blockers is key."
That was definitely a problem in Game 4 at Staples Center on Thursday. The Kings had three chances with the man advantage but managed one shot on goal in a 3-2 loss. They also had one during a four-minute power play midway through Game 3 after Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith high-sticked Jeff Carter.
It isn't just that Los Angeles isn't scoring; the Kings are struggling to generate quality chances. One strong power play with a few great chances can at least create some momentum for the following shifts, but the Kings aren't generating anything like that.
"Not much [you can do]. Every series people make a big deal out of it," coach Daryl Sutter said. "Every year I've been in it people make a big deal out of it. There isn't much different. There's no dramatic ... you get a faceoff goal or a broken stick goal or a turnover goals and everybody says, 'You scored on the power play.'"
So maybe the Kings need a fortunate bounce or a bad break for the Blackhawks. That would work too.
This isn't an isolated problem. None of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is clicking on the power play. Before Game 4 in Boston on Friday, there had been no power-play goals on 22 attempts in the Eastern Conference Final.
Chicago and Los Angeles, which have combined for two in 27 chances through four games, aren't faring much better.
"You look in this round and I don't think there's been too many power-play plays rolling along here," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I know Pittsburgh had it going for the first couple, but … Boston has a good penalty-killing team, L.A., Pittsburgh. I think a lot of teams right now they take away what you really want to do and you've got to get some ugly goals and get some fortunate bounces, and when you do get a chance you've got to bury it. But it's easier said than done."
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