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Seth Jones’ goal-scoring drought is ‘frustrating the hell out of me,’ the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman says

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/12/2022 Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune
Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones (4) battles Ducks center Trevor Zegras in the first period on March 8, 2022, at the United Center. © Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones (4) battles Ducks center Trevor Zegras in the first period on March 8, 2022, at the United Center.

To put Seth Jones’ scoring drought into perspective, his last goal was an early Christmas gift.

“I was calling for it, and (Josiah Slavin) put it right on my tape and I just wanted to finish it,” Jones said after scoring the tying goal in the third period of a 4-3 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 2.

Thirty-three games later, it has been nothing doing for Jones’ offense.

If you’re a third-pairing defenseman, you take it in stride. But if you’re a top-end blue liner who routinely joins the rush and works on the No. 1 power-play unit, it’s alarming.

“I think I’m playing pretty well, moving the puck well, (but) I just can’t put the puck in the net,” Jones said before Saturday’s road game against the Ottawa Senators. “It’s just frustrating the hell out of me this entire year.”

Jones ranks second on the Hawks with 34 assists.

“He likes to pass that thing off,” coach Derek King said. “Even though he’s not scoring, he brings so much more to the team. Defends well, his (penalty kills), power play, our breakouts or him skating the puck out, it’s huge what he does.

“There’s always pressure when you’re that type of player that you need to score all the time.”

Jones has three goals through 55 games entering Saturday, and none has come on the power play.

“I’ve been having some chances here and there,” Jones said. “Probably need to shoot a little bit more on the power play, get some action there. Be nice to see a couple go in. If that happens, obviously confidence comes from there.”

The chances have been there, however.

Jones has come up empty on 11 individual scoring chances on 22 shots on the man advantage, according to NaturalStatTrick. By comparison, he had two goals on five power-play chances on 15 shots while playing 56 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets last season.

He has taken 2 ½ shots per game this season, just like he did last season in Columbus.

Jones is seeing a few more blocked shots on the power play and he’s getting a lower percent of those shots through to the net (47.8%) than he did the previous two seasons (about 51% each).

But his five-on-five shots-through percentage is a career-high 60%.

So what gives?

Sharing ice much of the time with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat might have something to do with it. Jones has assisted on 18 goals between them.

“It’s a different look I’ve seen just with Kaner and Cat, they have so much focus on them,” Jones said. “(When) I do get the puck, I try to be more aggressive with it, take my ice a little bit more.

“There’s a little bit more up-ice pressure on breakouts just because they don’t want me to drop it to Kaner and Cat and put it in their hands. I’ve been learning from that a little bit, but for the most part it’s pretty much the same (defense).”

Added King: “Sometimes you don’t get the puck. Against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, Jones “was part of that rush when it was a four-on-one, and then Kaner’s going to pass to Cat anyway.”

Kane did. DeBrincat scored.

King wants Jones to get more involved on the power play.

“I’d like to see him shoot a little more ... (though) that’s tough because the flanks (usually Kane and DeBrincat) want the puck all the time,” King said. “But (Jones should) continue to join the rush, and if he does get shots five-on-five, then take them.

“But I’d really like to see him shoot more on the power play.”


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