By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) One of the odder moments of the Blackhawks’ series with the Wild came Monday when Wild head coach Mike Yeo subtly accused the Hawks of cheating on faceoffs.
“Certainly being at home is a bit of a difference,” Yeo said the day after Minnesota’s Game 3 win. “I say that because if we’re doing it the right way, they have to put their sticks down. When we were in Chicago, I thought they did a pretty good job of cheating in some of those situations.”
Faceoff rules require both faceoff participants to put the blade of their stick on the ice before the puck is dropped, although the road participant must put his stick down first with the home participant following up. Essentially Yeo was accusing the Blackhawks of not putting their sticks down during Games 1 and 2 in Chicago.
Hawks captain and frequent faceoff winner Jonathan Toews disagreed.
“I don’t think so,” he said Wednesday. “You can watch a lot of faceoffs. They’re pretty even. I don’t think our guys are really overstepping their boundaries by any means.”
Indeed, faceoffs in the series are almost dead even. The Blackhawks have a slight edge, winning 50.4 percent of them.
Yeo’s comments came after his team won 40-of-72 faceoffs in Game 3, but the accusation was in reference to the Hawks winning 31-of-57 in Game 2.
Of course, the entire issue is somewhat silly as cheating on faceoffs is as common a practice as anything in hockey.
“Sometimes if you’re caught cheating by the referee, you’re thrown out and sometimes you’re not,” Toews said. “It goes both ways. If something happens to me like that, you can’t just sit there and complain about it. You got to find a way to talk to them or find a way to win draws. I don’t know why so many people are complaining about it.”
Power Play Struggles Continue
There has been just one power play goal in the entire series by either the Blackhawks or Wild and it came way back in Game 1. The Blackhawks are just 1-for-11 on the power play in the series, while the Wild are 0-for-15.
Obviously the Blackhawks are very happy with their performance on the penalty kill, but the lack of success with the man-advantage is somewhat startling. It was a big problem during their first-round exit a year ago and could be an issue going forward.
So can the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup without their power play improving?
“I don’t know if you can,” Patrick Kane said. “I mean the last team to do it was Boston. I know they struggled on the power play. I know the year we won we had a good power play … I still think we can do it and by the end of the playoffs hopefully we show you guys.”
– Kane refused to say why head coach Joel Quenneville switched up the top two lines Tuesday night by moving him up to the top line and moving Marian Hossa down to the second line. Quenneville hinted that it was for matchup reasons.
– Quenneville said backup goaltender Ray Emery and center Dave Bolland are both “doubtful” to play in Thursday’s Game 5.
For more Blackhawks coverage throughout the playoffs, follow Adam on Twitter (@AdamHoge).