Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Power Play the Difference in Close Games

Wednesday, 01.28.2009 / 4:34 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Power Play the Difference in Close Games
Looking ahead at the final few months of the Canes’ schedule, there are games that will be difficult to win and there are games that the team has to have in order to make a serious run at the playoffs.
Paul Branecky
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Last night’s game in New York was the former. All losses are harder to stomach now than they were earlier in the year, but coming up one goal short in a hard-fought road game against a playoff team will be among the easier ones to digest.

The next two games, home contests against Tampa Bay and Atlanta on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, fall into the latter group. The Canes need to win more than they lose from hereon out, and taking care of (currently) non-playoff teams in your own building simply has to be done.

That being said, the game against Tampa Bay is somewhat misleading in that regard. Although they’ve been at or near the bottom of the Southeast standings all season, the Lightning have won six of their last eight games and won’t be a pushover.

”This is one of the hottest teams in the league coming in here,” said coach Paul Maurice. “We’re going to have all we can handle tomorrow night and we’re going to have to be sharper than we were [against the Rangers].”

If they are to win these two games, or many others for that matter, the Canes will need to be better on the power play. It’s been an up-and-down ride all year, and it was down against the Rangers with a 0-4 showing.

The team worked on it Wednesday without Ron Francis, who is still away from the team with a back injury but should be back for Thursday’s game. Since Maurice and Francis joined the coaching staff, the Canes are 10-4-2 when they score at least one power play goal and only 1-6-1 when they don’t. 

Part of that can be explained by the fact that the team plays so many close games. Eight of the team’s 11 wins under Maurice were by one goal, and the other three were by two goals.

“In one-goal games if your power play is 0-for, that’s the area you always look at first,” said Maurice.

“If you add an extra power play goal here and there, then you look at it as a different game,” said Sergei Samsonov. “We’ve had some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on, and that’s something we need to get better at.”

On some nights, one of the biggest problems with the power play is that the team isn’t able to set up in the offensive zone, instead turning the puck over at the blue line or allowing the opponent to control and clear dump-in attempts.

They’ve done better at that lately, but, according to Samsonov, didn’t do a good enough job with that extra possession against the Rangers.

“I think we need to attack a little more,” he said. “We were getting in the zone fairly consistently, but after that we were kind of kept to the outside. We weren’t attacking the net as much as we should. That’s something we need to do a little bit better, especially with everyone watching videos and doing their homework. I think it’s one of the simple things we need to improve on.”

Of course, the opposition has something to do with that too.  Both Tampa Bay and Atlanta are in the bottom half of the league in penalty killing percentage, whereas the Rangers are the best in the league.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62