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More Chances, More Goals for Power Play

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
Audio: Paul Maurice | Frantisek Kaberle

The Canes got an unexpected day off on Wednesday, as the “ice” at the RecZone was more like a lake, preventing the team from having practice. If that was a result of a player coming in early and messing with the thermostat, no one admitted it.

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According to head coach Paul Maurice, today’s session would have been a short one anyway, designed mostly to “get the hands loosened up” for tomorrow’s game against the Florida Panthers, who are 6-2-0 in their last eight and suddenly only two points back of Carolina in the standings.

The practice would not have been used to work extensively on the power play, which wasn’t always pretty in converting three of 11 chances last night against Montreal, but did enough to earn the win.

“Some nights you’re snapping it around and they go for you, but last night it wasn’t the case and they still stuck with it and found a way,” said Maurice.

It has been an adventure at times, but the power play has been cashing in more often in the Canes last six games under Paul Maurice and Ron Francis. They’ve scored seven man-advantage goals in that span, including three on eleven chances in their most recent game against Montreal.

The conversion rate is better – 17.9 percent over that six-game period – but a big factor in the increase of goals is an increase of opportunities. Prior to the 11 chances they got against Montreal, they had eight on Saturday against the New York Rangers and seven on Thursday against Philadelphia.

The Canes have been one of the NHL’s best-behaved teams after some trouble with discipline in the first few games of the season, but haven’t been drawing penalties at this rate for quite some time.

“We’ve controlled the puck more,” said Maurice. “Another thing to look at is hits, and teams are out-hitting us because we have the puck. We are making a concerted effort to hang on to the puck and not dump it as much. You’ve never seen a guy with the puck get a hooking penalty, and you never will.”

Frantisek Kaberle did manage to find a dry spot on one end of the ice and did some light skating on his own minutes after being activated from injured reserve (Tim Conboy was reassigned to make room). He’ll be ready to go tomorrow.

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