|“On a power play you expect to score every time you’re on the ice," Getzlaf said. "You can’t get ahead of yourself where you’re thinking score every single time because that is when you get frustrated. Then, all the sudden you are down and you’re bringing the team down. As long as we’re creating momentum, then things will roll and the pucks will start going in.” |
Though they were fifth in the league in power play success last season, so far this year the Ducks have struggled to capitalize on the man advantage.
Down in the uncustomary position of 26th in the NHL on the power play, Anaheim has only converted on 14.3 percent (4-for-28) of its chances through seven games. They’ve had an even tougher time at Honda Center, where the team has only lit the lamp once in 16 attempts (28th in the league). With three days between games, the Ducks are utilizing the time in practice to work out the kinks of a power play that is 0 for its last 17.
“As always, special teams are a challenge to get humming at 100 percent-plus,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is what you’d like and what we have to continue to work on. We put time and effort into specialty teams. We’re just not getting the desired result yet.”
The trouble came to a head in a 5-0 home loss to the Blues on Saturday night. When the game was close in the first period, the Ducks failed to convert on three man-advantage opportunities, while St. Louis netted their only chance to take a one-goal lead. The Blues would also convert on their next power play in the second period while Anaheim would continue to sputter.
“You win a lot of games on the PP and lose a lot of games because of the PP,” said Teemu Selanne
, who has two of the Ducks’ power play goals and has amassed 208 in his career to date (11th all time). “The last game was a typical example where we couldn’t get anything going and it cost us the game.”
|"You win a lot of games on the PP and lose a lot of games because of the PP," Selanne said. "The last game was a typical example where we couldn't get anything going and it cost us the game." |
With each unsuccessful bid on the power play, frustration slowly grows and soon starts to weigh down the Ducks in all facets of the game. “It’s one of the hardest things in hockey,” Ryan Getzlaf
said. “On a power play you expect to score every time you’re on the ice. You can’t get ahead of yourself where you’re thinking score every single time because that is when you get frustrated. Then, all the sudden you are down and you’re bringing the team down. As long as we’re creating momentum, then things will roll and the pucks will start going in.”
Getzlaf is an important piece to that puzzle getting solved. The 24-year-old center led the Ducks with 28 power play assists last season, tied for fourth in the league. But this season, he has just one power play helper thus far as he’s been shuffled from the point to the net in the team’s search for the right chemistry.
The Ducks had their two-time All-Star back in the center of the unit, a spot where he normally roams, at practice on Monday. “We’re going to move him back into the middle and see what we can come up with,” Carlyle said. “It also gives us the flexibility to put Selanne and [Saku] Koivu together on another unit. What the coaching staff and I’d like to see is competition develop between the two units. The one providing us with the most scoring chances and with offense is going to get the opportunity to play. This is a results-driven business.”
Said Getzlaf, “We’re trying to find that right chemistry within the units. Obviously, our power play hasn’t been clicking the way we want it to. The only result is to make changes. I don’t really have a preference, to tell you the truth. I like to have the puck. That is pretty evident and part of my game. Whether it’s from the half wall or up a little bit, it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s just a matter of what’s working and right now it’s not.”
|“There is going to be a game, it might be next game, where you get three or four power play goals," Wisniewski said. "Then, the next night you’ll go 0-for-5, then 2-for-4. It’s like bananas, it comes in bunches. You have to stick with it and keep plugging away.” |
A surefire boost to the special teams and the Ducks as a whole could be the return of defenseman James Wisniewski, who has missed the last three games with a sprained shoulder. The 25-year-old participated in practice for the second day in a row and is hopeful to get back in the lineup by Wednesday’s game against the Stars.
“I’m doing pretty well,” Wisniewski said. “It’s getting better and better every day with the treatment. I’m still shooting for Wednesday and that is a realistic date. I can’t injure it more or re-injure it. I’m going to have to play through a little bit of pain and fight through it.”
Before his injury, suffered in Philadelphia on October 10, Wisniewski tallied four assists and a plus-four rating (still the team leader in both categories). He was also third on the Ducks in time on ice with an average of 25:15, a chunk of that coming on special teams.
“Whenever you’re struggling on a power play, everything needs to go back to basics,” Wisniewski said. “Right now, we just need to get some more shots on goal. Hopefully, it starts going in off guys’ legs. You’ll take anything. There is going to be a game, it might be next game, where you get three or four power play goals. Then, the next night you’ll go 0-for-5, then 2-for-4. It’s like bananas, it comes in bunches. You have to stick with it and keep plugging away.”