It's been well documented that the Carolina Hurricanes are in the middle of a powerplay slump. While they recently broke a 0-28 streak with a Chad LaRose goal a couple of games ago against the Maple Leafs, the team is still searching for consistency.
Coach Paul Maurice put together a new powerplay line consisting of players not necessarily known for having a lot of NHL powerplay experience, including LaRose and Derek Joslin. Sunday morning after practice, I had the opportunity to speak with these players and asked them what they thought they could do to bring the powerplay back to life.
Joslin said that he's looking to get his shot through.
"My biggest strength on the powerplay is my shot," said the defenseman. "So first and foremost, I'm looking to get my shot on net so that the forwards can get the rebounds or tip it in. I'm also looking to make good plays, to see the ice well, and make good first passes out of the zone."
LaRose said he wasn't necessarily looking to reinvent his game while on the ice with the man advantage.
"I think the main thing for me is to try to keep my same game as with the 5-on-5 play, which is to get in and get the loose pucks, win the battles along the boards, then once we get control, get to the spot that Ronnie sets us up with." LaRose continued, "I also try to establish some net presence. I know the puck is going to get there eventually, so that's where I'm trying to end up on the powerplay. Then I can try to bang some in from there."
Both players were able to achieve what they tried to do during the team's last goal with the man advantage. Joslin got a puck to the net and LaRose was right in front to tip it in. We'll see if they can combine for some more in the future.
Other notes from practice:
Jamie McBain skated and took part in most of the drills, as well as the 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of practice. He wore the "no contact" yellow jersey. Maurice said after the practice that his rehab was ahead of schedule, but the defenseman was still 2-3 weeks away from game action, probably closer to two weeks.
Eric Staal and Cam Ward were given the day off and did not practice with the team. Staal was working out off-ice for a bit, I didn't see Ward.
Coach said that Bryan Allen has been pretty much as expected. Maurice explained further. "He's a presence back there. He plays a mean game, he talks to players on the other team, and clears the front of the net." He talks to the other team? "Yes, he gets his point across in front of our net, so he's been good."
The coach was also asked if a goal like Joni Pitkanen's in OT could help to give some much needed confidence to the talented defenseman's game?
"I hope so," said the coach. "He's such an important part of our team. We need to have him playing at his best. I thought he jumped up and started to play more like Joni later in that game, and we're expecting that."
Is it up to the player or the coach at this point to help things along? "We are hoping that the last game will be the jump start he needs. We have already had our conversations."
When asked about the now somewhat famous speech made during the second intermission of Friday's game, which motivated the team to play with a bit more desperation in the third period in the team's comeback win over the Islanders, Maurice responded, "Not all speeches should make the papers."