More power-play work for Canes

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 5, 2014 

A day after the Canes lost 2-1 to the Winnipeg Jets and failed to get a shot on goal on the power play, the Canes predictably worked on the power play.

Canes coach Kirk Muller looked at different combinations in practice Wednesday at PNC Arena, moving Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm to Jordan Staal's unit, and Jiri Tlusty and Nathan Gerbe to Eric Staal's unit. The Canes worked on breakouts and zone entries and shot angles.

Against the Jets, Carolina had 51 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the second period, trailing 1-0. Defenseman John-Michael Liles hit a post but there was nothing put on net.

The Canes are tied for 26th in the NHL in power-play percentage at 14.1 percent although tied for 11th in power-play opportunities with 192. Since scoring two power-play goals in a 6-1 win over Toronto on Jan. 9, the Canes have gone 3-for-31 in the past 11 games (6-5-0).

"Truthfully, we're really happy with our 5-on-5 hockey," Muller said. "Today we looked at it as what areas do we want to cover and worked on that. You look at last night's game and it was pretty darn good 5 on 5. So we've got to get some different looks on the power play and look at the areas we need to get better at.

“One area is we need to raise our competition level. We've got to get more shots, get more hungry around the net."

The Canes were posting special-teams standings in the Eastern Conference in their locker room, but have made a change. Now the Canes are the only team listed, at No. 1 in power play and penalty killing, with "100 percent" written on the white board. The rest of the slots are blank.

Muller at times has used the hockey adage that a total percentage of 100 from the power-play and penalty-killing units is a reasonable goal for most teams. The Canes' penalty killing stands at 79.6 percent, so their total would be 93.7.

The Philadelphia Flyers, for example, are at 19.8 percent on the power play and 83.8 on the P.K. The Flyers are one of the teams the Canes are chasing in the Metro Division.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, the Metro leaders, are atop the NHL in both categories -- 24.9 percent on the power play and 87.7 in penalty killing. They're the gold standard.

"I think the big objective is how we're going to play from here down the stretch," Muller said. "It's a mindset that our special teams have to be in that 100-plus ratio. That's the challenge.

"This is the area we've got to crank up. If we've got to work on it more, we'll work on it more. If we have to change the personnel, we have to change the personnel. But at the end of the day we've got to get results."

Goaltender Anton Khudobin was not at practice Wednesday as Cam Ward and Justin Peters manned the nets. Muller said Khudobin, who has played in 15 straight games, was given the day off.

"He's fine," Muller said.

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