BROSSARD – The Habs are looking to make their special teams count against Boston on Wednesday night.
After going 0-for-22 in the past five games with the man advantage, the Canadiens are looking to add a little firepower to their special teams against the Bruins. Adding James Wisniewski back to the lineup is a pretty good place to start.
“We’ve just been struggling the last five games period even when I was out there on the power play,” offered the sharp-shooting defenseman, who has missed the past two games with a throat infection. “We just have to get pucks to the net. It’s looked good – we just need one little bounce and hopefully that will open up the flood gates.”
Second on the team to only Michael Cammalleri in power play goals, Wisniewski could prove to be exactly the scoring catalyst the Canadiens need to spark the struggling PP.
“Other teams are looking to block that point shot by me and P.K. They’re putting a lot of pressure on us, but we have a lot of guys who can move the puck quickly. Once things start clicking for us, we’ll be able to capitalize on that,” explained Wisniewski. “You have to make decisions a little quicker and get your shot off faster when they’re pressuring you like that.
“When the three guys on the outside are covered, it’s up to the two guys down low to battle it out in front of the net,” he added. “If you get the puck to the net, you’re hoping for a deflection or a good battle deep in the zone.”
While special teams are never about one player in particular, there is a key component that’s been missing from the Canadiens’ power play since January 18. With Cammalleri still sidelined with a shoulder injury, head coach Jacques Martin is looking for some other snipers to step up.
“For sure we miss Cammalleri on the power play, but we also miss Markov. Success on the power play isn’t about one guy,” underlined Martin, whose team has gone 4-for-31 with the man advantage without Cammalleri in the lineup. “It’s about five guys applying basic, key concepts: taking advantage of 2-on-1s, moving the puck, moving your feet and taking what the opposition gives you.”
That message has been heard loud and clear throughout the Habs dressing room.
“When you have key guys like Cammy out there, it’s harder to cover everyone,” explained P.K. Subban
. “Look at Tampa Bay – they have a lot of different weapons on their first power play unit. You take away Stamkos and St. Louis is open. You take away St. Louis and Lecavalier is open. You take away Lecavalier and Gagne is open. When you don’t have those weapons out there, it makes it tough on the other players but we need to adapt and create space for ourselves.”
Despite the dip in production of late, the rookie blue-liner knows the only thing missing from the Canadiens’ play with the man advantage is finish.
“I think we’re creating a lot of opportunities on the power play,” offered Subban. “Every game we get a lot of opportunities to score, but we’re either hitting a post or the puck is in the crease and just isn’t going in. We just have to continue doing what we’re doing and bring the energy.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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