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Power play struggles, but Wings not panicking

by Derek Gluth / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT -- One of the stats on billboard in the Red Wings' locker room is power play percent. The Red Wings ranked third in the NHL at 22.17 percent on the power play, scoring 47 goals in 212 opportunities prior to Thursday's home game against Vancouver.

While those numbers don't seem like much cause for concern, it's a different number that has the Wings scratching their heads. In the last 11 games, including Thursday's, Detroit has converted on 3-of-33 power play chances, and in those games, went without a power play goal in eight.
"That's one area we definitely have to be better at," said Dan Cleary who had two goals in Detroit's 3-2 shootout win over the Canucks. "We just gotta keep working at it, we've got the players to do it."

The Wings (34-10-4) were 0-for-3 with the man-advantage against the Canucks. For the season, the Wings are 1-for-13 in three wins over Vancouver.
Those numbers are dramatically different than a unit that put together a streak of 11 games with at least one power play goal between November 17 and December 9; including a three game stretch where they had two power play goals in each game against Columbus, St. Louis and Nashville.
The Red Wings have had three such streaks of at least two power play goals in three games in a row, most recently December 15-19 against Florida, Washington and Los Angles. And most importantly, in those three stretches, Detroit is 8-1-0.
On a team that leads the NHL in offense with 156 goals coming into Thursday against the Canucks, 47 of those goals come on the power play, an average on one per game.
The starting power play unit consists of the top two scoring defenseman in the league, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, and two of the top 10 scorers overall in the league, Henrik Zetterberg at sixth and Pavel Datsyuk at ninth. Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom are both in the top 10 in power play goals.
With all those amazing statistics, the fact remains that power play goals are getting hard to come by with only two in 25 chances in 2008 for only eight percent. Thursday looked much the same as Detroit went 0-3 with six shots against Vancouver who ranks 22nd in penalty killing on the road.
"Our first power play wasn't good, our next power play was outstanding," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I didn't think we were great on the four on three (in overtime). In saying that we had a real good play from Pav (Datsyuk), Luongo never saw the puck, it was deflected by Homer, it was laying in between his legs and it just didn't go in."
The Red Wings don't seem too worried.
"We have to stay positive, stay level-headed and do the things that we do best," Cleary said. "You go through these things during the season. It was outstanding for us during the first half, it's been a little bit of a pain lately, and tonight it would have been nice to get it in overtime, but that's what practice is for, we've to keep working at it. We've got too many good players for it not to be good."
Babcock agreed in Cleary's lighthearted approach.
"We've got to shoot it in the net. When you shoot it in the net, the power play percentage gets big," joked Babcock. "If you do good things over a period of time, good things will happen. And I'm fine with that."
With three more games before the All-Star break, the Red Wings will have plenty of time to get some practice in and make the power play once again the threat is was in the first half of the season."

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