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Chicago Blackhawks: Top 5 Weaknesses to Address Before Playoffs

James MaahsContributor IIIMarch 27, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: Top 5 Weaknesses to Address Before Playoffs

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    The playoffs are almost upon us and the Chicago Blackhawks are sitting pretty in the sixth spot of the Western Conference.

    Having their share of injuries, the Blackhawks will look to get a healthy squad heading into the playoffs and possibility even some momentum.

    But the Blackhawks have some glaring issues that need to be addressed before they start their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup. The time has now come for the players to get their game together and fix any weaknesses that other teams would gladly expose.

    Your only as strong as you weakest point, the Chicago Blackhawks are no exception.

    These are the top five weaknesses that need to be addressed before the playoffs begin.

Power Play

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    The Blackhawks have been really inconsistent on the power play this season and there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut answer as to why.

    They rank 23rd overall in the NHL on the power play which is very low for a team that has this many skilled forwards. 

    On of the major reasons the power play has been lacking this season is the inability to enter the zone. The Hawks have trouble getting set up when on the power play and it usually starts when they get lose the puck before the blue line.

    Skilled forwards usually like to take the puck into the zone themselves but the time has come to play some serious playoff hockey. That means it's time to dump the puck more when being stood up at the blue line.

    Take the body and work hard along the boards; it will pay off so long as the Blackhawks keep to the plan.

Penalty Kill

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    Scoring on the power play is one thing, making sure the opponent doesn't is another.

    If the Blackhawks want to make it deep into the playoffs have a good penalty kill will be vital to their success.

    The Blackhawks rank 26th on the penalty kill this season which leaves much room for improvement. 

    Better defensive positioning and even better goaltending will help the penalty kill regain its form. The Blackhawks might also want to take less penalties overall...but one step at a time.

Goaltending

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    The inconsistency of goaltending this season has led to both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery sharing the net.

    That will need to change come playoff time. Corey Crawford looks to be the man in net right now, but don't be surprised if Emery gets a few more starts as well.

    A tighter defensive presence would help the goalies make more saves but it is important not to let in the soft goals that Blackhawks fans have become accustomed to seeing.

    Either way tighter goaltending is a must if the Blackhawks want to make a deep playoff run. It doesn't have to be the best goaltending in the NHL, just has to be better.

Turnovers

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    Offensive zone turnovers have been killing the Blackhawks this season. Turnovers usually lead to a great scoring chance for the other team and the Blackhawks need to limit that going into the playoffs.

    Cute plays and bad defensive positioning tend to lead to neutral ice and offensive zone turnovers. 

    Being better at puck battles along the boards will also go a long way in helping the Blackhawks limit those kinds of turnovers.

Play a Full 60 Minutes

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    To many times this season have the Blackhawks played a great 40 minutes only to come out sluggish in the third period.

    It's time to play a full 60 minutes every single game and give it all you got, regardless of the score of the other team.

    It's important that the Blackhawks have that "killer" instinct that puts teams away and doesn't let them back into the game. Playoff hockey is all about stomping down on the opposing team until they can't take any more.

    Play a full 60 minutes and don't give them a chance to win the game.

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