Needing 'Special' Attention

One aspect of the Ducks' special teams (penalty kill) is thriving while the other (power play) is struggling, and Anaheim needs to get both clicking if it hopes to get back into playoff position

Tuesday, 03.17.2009 / 6:33 PM / Features
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Needing \'Special\' Attention

By Matt Vevoda
AnaheimDucks.com

"I think that is one area where we can do better and we know we can make winning easier by doing that," Selanne said of Anaheim's power play.

For much of the Ducks’ last half dozen games, their two special teams units have been nestled at opposite ends of the success spectrum.

It all began for Anaheim during a game at Dallas on Feb. 28. That’s when Andrew Ebbett (first period) and Stars center Mike Ribeiro (second period) traded power play goals in a span of 9:12 for their respective clubs. Since that time, Anaheim has gone 0-for-21 with the man advantage while the penalty kill has gone a robust 21-of-22 (only goal surrendered was again to Ribeiro on March 6 at Honda Center) against opponents during the same span.

“What we’ve done since the trade deadline is we’ve tried to be a lot more aggressive with the penalty kill,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. “That is where you have seen the emergence of Mike Brown. Todd Marchant has filled a huge role. Petteri Nokelainen has come in and we’ve used Robbie Niedermayer and Ryan Carter. We’ve used five forwards, basically.”

Stopping power plays at a 95.45 percent clip has definitely kept the Ducks close in those contests (two wins, four losses by one goal), but in order to reverse those fortunes over the final 13 games on the calendar, the team understands it must get its power play back to its vibrant past. Even with the recent drought, Anaheim still ranks ninth in the league with a 20.31 power play percentage.

“I think that is one area where we can do better and we know we can make winning easier by doing that,” said Teemu Selanne, who leads the team with 14 power play goals. “There have been a lot of good chances. I think it’s all about making right decisions, when it’s time to shoot and when it’s time to pass. You can’t force either one.”

"For the last couple of games, they've been one-goal games," Wisniewski said. "We're looking at four-five power play at least, so if we can sneak one in there, it's going to be a big key to making the playoffs here in the next 13 games."

Said Bobby Ryan, whose eight power play goals are tied for the league lead among rookies, “It’s important not to get too down in the low times. We had a good month of January and February wasn’t a bad month for the power play either. It’s not clicking right off the bat here. We have to get more pucks to the net and more traffic in front.”

Things will not get any easier for the Ducks on Wednesday night against Nashville, which brings to town the league’s third-best penalty kill (84.72 percent). But Anaheim was able to score twice on that unit (one from Ryan Getzlaf that temporarily tied the game at 3-3 in the third period) in the last matchup between the teams in Orange County on Nov. 14, a 4-3 overtime win for the Predators. The Ducks power play will look for that same success in this go-around.

“When you start keeping it simple and are just throwing pucks at the net, you never know what can happen,” said defenseman James Wisniewski, who Carlyle indicated may get a bigger chance on the power play unit. “You may get one or two goals. That can be the difference in winning games. For the last couple of games, they’ve been one-goal games. We’re looking at four-five power plays at least, so if we can sneak one in there, it’s going to be a big key to making the playoffs here in the next 13 games.”

In an effort to get things turned around with the man advantage, Carlyle and the coaching staff have tried to employ a few different looks. They’ve moved Ryan to the top unit with Selanne and Getzlaf, and Corey Perry to the second unit with Ebbett and Erik Christensen. Now, Wisniewski may see an increase to his minutes on the power play. The highest amount of time he’s clocked on the unit in four games with the team thus far is 1:05 against the Stars on March 6.

"It's important for us to make sure we're ready to go," said Ryan, who turned 22 years old on Tuesday. "Especially at home, we have to use the crowd to our advantage and make sure we're playing for them. Hopefully, special teams comes through in a big way tomorrow night."

“We’ll try to spread a little more of the minutes out,” Carlyle said. “Wisniewski’s strength is he has a shot and he can use it. That is what we’re going to continue to focus on is utilize the strengths of the personnel that we have and try to put them in situations they can have success in.”

Beginning with Wednesday night’s game against the Predators, the Ducks will only face four different teams in a span of eight games (two games each against Nashville, Phoenix, Colorado and Edmonton). The Ducks hope the familiarity can help spark change to the team on multiple fronts, including on the power play.

“It's important for us to make sure we’re ready to go,” said Ryan, who turned 22 years old on Tuesday. “Especially at home, we have to use the crowd to our advantage and make sure we’re playing for them. Hopefully, special teams comes through in a big way tomorrow night.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48


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