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Dumbing Down the Power Play

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

It wasn’t the most glowing term, but Ryan Bayda may have said it best last week when describing what the Canes need to do differently in order to score more goals.

“It’s almost brain-dead hockey,” he said prior to Sunday’s loss to Anaheim.

Paul Branecky
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In saying that, he meant that the Canes need to play a simpler, almost textbook game of shooting the puck at every opportunity and working hard to convert those shots into goals through rebounds, screens, tip-ins and other types of grunt work.

They did a better job of that with 17 shots in the second period against Anaheim on Sunday, but couldn’t convert.  Still, it was a step in the right direction, and as long as the Canes keep that up, their luck should turn.

Even in that second period, however, the power play seemed to be a completely different animal.  The team had two man-advantages in that period – one with two shots and one with zero - that basically served to give Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller a breather between even-strength barrages on either side.

The 0-4 performance on Sunday extended the Canes current power play drought to 26 chances, dating back to Ray Whitney’s goal against Montreal on November 18.  The power play is currently 29th in the league at 12.9 percent.

Carrying the even-strength simplicity over to the power play could be the answer.

”We’ve just got to get back to the basics and stick to it,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford.  “We have good enough players and a good enough team.  We don’t have to score pretty goals on the power play.  Any kind of goal on the power play will work.  They all count the same.”

It sounds obvious, but the first step to scoring goals is getting shots.  The Canes have mustered only 23 shots on goal during the current 26-chance drought – an average of less than one shot per opportunity.

“We’ll turn our two minute power play into passing the puck around the outside and in some cases not even taking a shot,” Rutherford continued.  “That’s what the other team wants.  Keep the puck to the outside and you can pass it around all you want.  That’s the easiest system to defend against, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

In preparing to face two teams in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that boast top-10 penalty kills, a little brain-deadness could go a long way.

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