Three Critical Match-Ups For Chicago Part One: Hawks PK Vs. Sharks PP

Jeff HicksCorrespondent IMay 14, 2010

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 25: Manny Malhotra #27 of the San Jose Sharks and Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks go for the puck during their game at HP Pavilion on November 25, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Two powerful lines, strong defensive presence, and lightning-quick decision making. Is this something a power play or penalty kill should have?

How about both?

In the case of the Chicago Blackhawks penalty kill, it possesses all of those qualities. So does the San Jose power play. Does this constitute as a man advantage then?

The Chicago Blackhawks have neutralized numerous power plays because of their ability to score while a man down. Dave Bolland, Marian Hossa, John Madden, Jonathan Toews, and Kris Versteeg have been the anti-power play, and showcased it in Hossa's first game with Chicago back on November 25. Hossa had a goal and an assist...shorthanded.

Even though the Sharks had no answer for their special teams during the regular season against the Hawks, they may now. Joe Pavelski has scorched opponents during the playoffs to the tune of 15 points and 3 game-winning goals. "Little Joe" has been the spark plug for a team that had minimal production during Colorado in the first round. If Pavelski is manning the second line on the man advantage, just imagine the problems a productive first line can be for a strong Chicago PK.

Another issue for Chicago against the #1 seed is their inability to get the puck out of the defensive zone before chaos breaks out. A good cycling power play unit can accentuate that problem. Chicago showed a lack simplicity consistently against Nashville and occassionally in the Vancouver series. The fancy pass back to the defenseman instead of the wrist shot for a clear has been an issue one or eight too many times.

If the Hawks control those few issues, they can show off what San Jose couldn't stop-team speed. Chicago had moments where they ran laps around the Sharks in their four match-ups this season. The speed has made Chicago's penalty kill one of the best the last two seasons.

Special teams wins games in the playoffs (see: Chicago/Vancouver game four). With the propensity of officials calling a loose game in the playoffs, every power play chance/penalty kill is crucial. Watch these two specific units. Whoever succeeds will more than likely win the series.