Friday, June 7
Updated: June 7, 11:46 PM ET
Canes can't find answer with man advantage
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Paul Maurice isn't close to pushing the panic button with Carolina's lack of power-play production in the Stanley Cup finals.
The coach has been down this rocky road more than once in the 2002 playoffs, only to see the Hurricanes smooth things out and advance.
Carolina went 0-for-8 with the man-advantage in a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 on Thursday night. That followed a 1-for-6 effort in the Game 1 overtime win, but that power-play goal came on a 5-on-3.
The Hurricanes were a combined 1-for-13 on the power play in each of the first two games of the Montreal and Toronto series. Against the Canadiens, Carolina scored five power-play goals over the next four games to close that series out in six, while the Hurricanes went 3-for-8 with the man advantage in Games 3 and 4 against the Maple Leafs to take command of that series.
However, the Hurricanes are aware they can't keep wasting scoring chances against the powerhouse Red Wings.
"They have some talented penalty-killers and they do a good job, but on the other hand, we have some talented people we can put on the power play and we have to do a better job of making smarter decisions,'' Carolina's Jeff O'Neill said Friday. "Sometimes we're holding on to the puck when we should be shooting it and vice versa. It's not just about battling and intensity, but better decision-making all around has to be made.''
The player struggling the most on the power play is right point man Sami Kapanen, who has mishandled pucks at the blue line and has been hesitant to shoot during his playoff slump.
Kapanen has one goal in 20 playoff games after scoring a career-high 27 in the regular season and he lost the puck on a turnover Thursday night that led to Detroit's short-handed goal for a 1-0 lead.
However, Maurice said Kapanen will remain on the team's power play unit for Saturday's Game 3 in the best-of-seven series.
"Yes, he looked a little tentative in (Game 2), but he was not alone in that,'' Maurice said. "It's not a matter of taking one guy off. When you do that you have to write out the next four rotations and see what it does to everything else. There is more to it than that.''
Kapanen said the team will take a different approach in Game 3.
"We can simplify things a little bit, take some more shots,'' he said. "Especially myself, I'm passing too much. I need to find a way to get the shot through and create some rebounds.''
Maurice also said David Tanabe, a regular on the power play during the season, will not return Saturday night. Tanabe's speed could help the power play, but he's been out of the lineup since breaking his wrist in Game 1 of the opening-round series against New Jersey. The second-year defenseman has been cleared to play, but Maurice has balked at putting a player in such an intense environment after being off the ice for a month.
"There are some technical adjustments we have to make when we move the puck through the neutral zone, but the bigger one is the quickness issue,'' Maurice said. "In some ways we've got to be less patient with what we're looking for because they've done a real nice job of taking away our back end. We've gone through these stretches before. Sometimes its just launching it at the net and maybe that's where we're got to go with this.''
All the blame doesn't fall on Carolina's power-play unit when the Red Wings can send players like Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman on the ice as penalty-killers.
"Their forwards are so intelligent,'' Maurice said. "So much of penalty-killing is just smarts and reading the flow of the play and their team is probably the best in the league at it in terms of having a big group of very, very smart, intelligent hockey players. They have a bunch of guys who are in Ron Francis' class as far as reading plays.''