Although the Canes didn’t skate today following last night’s loss, they did have a team video session at the RBC Center this morning, the focus of which was on the team’ struggling power play.
The Devils killed off all five Carolina chances in Game 3, any one of which could have been the difference in the overtime loss. While that was unfortunate in itself, Coach Paul Maurice was more upset with the lack of quality chances his team generated in the process.
“We gave it to those guys something fierce today,” he said. “The power play is ebb and flow, and when you’re confident you see more motion and more quickness, and when it’s not going it’s stagnant and it’s standing. We’ll remind them of what our power play looks like when it’s good, and we’ll go through what we’re seeing right now.”
New Jersey has been limiting the Canes’ chances at even strength, which was more or less expected heading into the series. However, it may be that mounting tension from that experience has spilled over into man advantage situations, which doesn’t have to be the case.
“They’ve got good penalty killing, and we’ve just got to stay focused on what we do well and keep doing that stuff,” said Tuomo Ruutu. “If you get frustrated you start doing stuff you haven’t done the whole year, and that’s not good. We’ve got to do what we do best in staying simple and shooting the puck, and I think it’s going to come from there.”
Carolina’s power play had been successful in the latter part of the year and particularly in the regular season series between the two clubs, posting a sterling 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) conversion rate. Anton Babchuk was especially effective in that regard, but the Devils, who made a point of focusing on the big defenseman heading into the series, have limited him to just two shots thus far.
“There’s a group killing the penalty out there that’s doing a pretty darned good job, and they’re not going to change what they do in their mindset,” said Maurice. “They get to shooting lanes and they’re very aggressive.”
While credit should be given to the Devils in that regard, there’s more the Canes can do. Maurice pointed to an telling collision between two Hurricanes players at the opposition blue line during a second period power play - an unforced error that wasted several precious seconds.
“We were a ways off what we’d like to do,” he said. “Confidence, speed, puck movement – those things all go into feeling good about your power play. We’ll try to make some adjustments so we can do those things easier.”
“We’ve got to get it in there by making sure we’re coming through the neutral zone with some speed,” said Eric Staal. “Power plays can be big, and we’ve got to stay positive, stay attacking the net and when we get that opportunity try to cash in.”