‘Canes Aren’t Good on Power Play

‘Canes power play! While usually cause for an enthusiastic response, lately not so much. The Carolina Hurricanes need to start capitalizing on the times when they have a man advantage, and get some goals out of those situations. For example, I’m watching the ‘Canes playing the Tampa Bay Lightning from the press box, and in two periods the Lightning have been penalized three times. How many goals for the Hurricanes you ask? Zip, zero, nada.

Have You Watched Playoff Hockey?

I marvel every time the Stanley Cup Playoffs come around at a couple of things. First, the speed the playoff teams play with on the ice. Man it’s wide open from start to finish. Yes, I know it’s playoff hockey, but there is something to be said for the energy at which teams in the playoffs play. I understand teams can’t play an 82-game schedule with their hair on fire every night, but teams that want to be in the playoffs play like it most nights during the season.

Jeff Skinner (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Jeff Skinner on the first unit when the Hurricanes have the man-advantage                                           (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Second, the power plays in the playoffs are amazing to watch. I’m no statistics hound, but I watch and I see playoff teams going at the net like crazy during the postseason. It’s like the players are saying, “This is a golden chance and we’re going to do everything we can to capitalize on it.” No, teams with the man-advantage don’t score every time during the playoffs. But they do go after it hard, and do one thing that I’ve noticed lacking from the Hurricanes’ power play of late. They shoot the puck.

You Can’t Score if You Don’t Shoot

I heard a high school basketball coach say one time, “They don’t give points for dribbling.” I thought that was very insightful. (Not really, I actually thought, “Well, duh.”) But, as I have been watching the ‘Canes tonight on their first three power play opportunities, I had a similar insightful thought: “You can’t score if you don’t shoot.” (As I am writing this paragraph the Lightning just committed their fourth penalty. I’ll let you know how that works out).

Seriously, on their previous three power plays I wanted to violate all press box protocol and scream, “Shoot the freaking puck!” (You’re not allowed to do that). I watched as the power play guys passed the puck around the ice beautifully, even charged the night only to fake a shot and kick the puck back out. If this were basketball, a move like that might result in a three-point shot being lobbed, but it ain’t hoops, it’s hockey and the idea is to get the round rubber disc into the area with the net behind it. Shoot the freaking puck, I say.

Oh, the Lightning killed power play number four, but the Hurricanes did blast away at Ben Bishop, finally. I was happy to see a more aggressive effort there. By the way, Bishop made a very rare, “neck save” in the second period.

So When You Have the Man-Advantage…

I understand that as ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters says it is tough to score in this league. The Hurricanes are the toughest team in the NHL to score against when they are down a man, with their penalty kill one of the few consistent positives on the season so far. Their power play percentage is hovering right around 19 percent, so roughly one in every five chances with the man-advantage they are likely to get a goal. I just happen to think that if they were more aggressive, shot more on their power play chances, they might just score more.

For you stat-geeks, the game just ended with the Hurricanes having recorded six shots on goal on four opportunities with the man-advantage. In fact, what prompted this post was watching their first power play of the night. I noticed that the ‘Canes had five shots on goal at the outset of the power play and still had five at the end of the power play. My point? Shoot the freaking puck!