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Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk quickly offered an opinion Thursday on how to jumpstart a struggling power play.
“Get a few greasy ones, hopefully,” he said.
Have a puck go off someone’s skate or backside and skid past the goalie. Get a timely tip. Crowd the crease and get an easy rebound or tap-in. Find a way.
But more than anything, Faulk said, stick with it. Believe in the process.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going your way there’s a tendency to overthink things,” Faulk said. “When the numbers aren’t there and the results, it can be hard to stay with the process.
“The power play needs to be a focal point for our team. We have the players for it and need to stay with it. When you’re snakebit and try to force things it usually makes it worse. We need to dig in a little more.”
Faulk’s right about the numbers. They aren’t good. The Canes, now 4-2-1 after back-to-back regulation losses, have dipped to 28th in the NHL in power-play percentage at 8 percent.
Shots on goal
The Canes have had 25 power plays and scored twice. Sebastian Aho had a power-play goal in the 5-4 road win over Minnesota and Teuvo Teravainen an empty-netter in the final minute of the 8-5 blowout win over the New York Rangers at home.
That’s it, a short roll call.
“It’s kind of cliche but we need to keep shooting, throw pucks to the net, outnumber them in front of the net and get those seconds and thirds (rebounds),” Aho said Thursday. “We need to keep the pressure on in their zone and take more shots.
“Last game we did. We felt like we hadn’t scored on the (power play) so we outworked them and had a couple of good chances.”
The Canes had 11 shots on four power plays in the 4-2 road loss Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The looks were there and Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said the power-play entries were the best in the first seven games.
“We got in every time, then we started rushing things,” Brind’Amour said Thursday. “That’s kind of what happens when you talk about,‘We’ve got to score on the power play.’ We start taking five-on-five shots and those are not effective.
“We’ve just got to get back to knowing we’ve got some good talent out there make it work. Relax a little bit and go through your set and go through what we’re trying to do rather than just rushing shots.”
The Canes’ Martin Necas drew an tripping penalty against the Lightning midway through the first period but the Canes, leading 1-0, had three shots blocked on the power play.
That was good work by the Tampa Bay penalty killers and was even better for the Lightning when Tyler Johnson scored shorthanded to tie the score.
Later in the first, the Canes’ Andrei Svechnikov was held, and Aho, Jordan Staal, Jaccob Slavin and Lucas Wallmark all had power-play shots.
Early the second, after the Canes’ Justin Williams was tripped, Faulk, Aho and Valentin Zykov all got off shots. Zykov later was hooked, giving Aho, Teravainen and Dougie Hamilton opportunities to score.
“We had some good things happen at Tampa,” Faulk said. “Good chances, good shots, guys working hard to get pucks back.
“The first couple of games we probably weren’t generating enough shots. It was probably a bit uglier than it is now. You don’t want to give up a shorthanded one like we did (to Johnson) but we’re sticking with it in the sense we’ve been working hard and we’re showing that compete to get pucks back.”
The Canes moved the puck crisply, got good shots and were effective in their preseason games. But that was the preseason. Thus far in the regular season, the Canes are fourth in the NHL in total power-play time (44 minutes) and tied for fourth with their 25 total power plays. But just the two scores.
After the Tampa Bay game, Brind’Amour said some “major changes” could be made if the special teams — Carolina is tied for last on the penalty kill (63.6 percent) — did not quickly improve.
The Canes put in special-teams work in practice Thursday at Raleigh Center Ice. One power-play unit had Aho, Teravainen, Staal, Zykov and Faulk. The second: Micheal Ferland, Williams, Svechnikov, Slavin and Hamilton.
Aho was reminded of his slow starts the past two seasons, going scoreless in October each year. Once he did score, he scored a lot.
Could that be the case with the Canes’ power play: slow start, good finish?
“Yeah, that could happen,” Aho said. “There are going to be times each year when it doesn’t work and you’re thinking too much. I’m sure we’re going to be fine.”