Carolina Hurricanes chasing spark for struggling power play
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t getting much from their power play. They have fewer than two weeks to get it rolling again before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Hurricanes have managed one goal with the man advantage in the month of April. That came in Saturday’s loss at Colorado, following a stretch of 22 straight missed opportunities and one of only two conversions since late March.
The situation has left coach Rod Brind’Amour in the position of deciding between significant adjustments or sticking with what has been a productive approach until recently.
“The easy thing is just, ‘Oh, let’s just start changing things up,’” Brind’Amour said. “But you’ve got to remember, that power play … I know we were pretty good for 60-some-odd games. So I know it works. And especially when you see what we’re not doing, we used to do. So we’ve got to get back to doing what we were doing. And that’s really the first part of it.
“Now if we get back to doing what we were doing and we’re not scoring, now you’ve got to look at maybe moving some pieces around.”
Having already clinched a fourth straight postseason appearance, the Hurricanes enter Thursday’s home game against Winnipeg in a battle with the New York Rangers to hold the Metropolitan Division lead. Getting the power play going would be a big help, both in that more immediate goal and for the longer-term chances of making a deep playoff run.
Brind’Amour — the captain on Carolina’s 2006 Cup winner — has raised the franchise from the depths of a nine-year postseason drought with an approach that includes an aggressive forecheck and stepped-up play in special teams, both in converting with the man advantage and in killing off penalties.
Those overall numbers are still positive. Carolina ranks as the NHL’s best on the penalty kill (88.2%) and 10th on the power play (22.4%), putting them alongside Calgary, St. Louis, Toronto and the Rangers as the only teams ranking in the top 10 for both.
But Carolina has failed to convert on 29 of 31 attempts over 12 games. The Hurricanes finally ended their 0-for-22 drought in Saturday’s 7-4 loss to the Avalanche when Andrei Svechnikov skated in on the left side to collect a deflected shot by Teuvo Teravainen and beat Darcy Kuemper at 6:28 of the third.
That marked Carolina’s first power-play goal since Sebastian Aho redirected Teravainen’s shot to beat Montreal’s Jake Allen in the opening minutes of a 4-0 home win on March 31.
“I think confidence has been hit a little hard and we’re gripping the stick a little bit too tight and not creating as many opportunities,” said Vincent Trocheck, who works with Aho, Svechnikov, Teravainen and defenseman Tony DeAngelo on the top power-play unit.
“I think we just need to simplify, get more pucks to the net, try to create some try to create some rebounds and dirtier goals. I don’t know if there’s much of a difference per se, it’s just a matter of executing.”
Before the 2-for-31 stretch, the Hurricanes were converting 25% (47 of 188) of power plays, which would rank sixth in the league as of Tuesday. That included opening the season with 13 power-play goals in 14 games.
“At the beginning of the year, we got off to a hot start on the power play, everything was clicking,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “And now it seems like we’re not getting those bounces. ... It’s just getting it ready and primed up, and if we can get it going for the playoffs, it’s going to be huge.”
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