By Will Burchfield
Before the question was asked, Henrik Zetterberg offered an answer.
“It’d be nice to get one to go in on the power play here soon,” said the Wings’ captain, following another fruitless night on the man advantage and another loss on home ice. “But, it is what it is.”
What else is there to say? The Wings are 1/24 on the power play in their last seven games and 3/42 in their last 13. They were 0/4 on Thursday night against the Kings, dropping their success rate to 13.3 percent on the season – 28th in the league.
“We really got our work cut out for ourselves on the power play,” said Gustav Nyqvist, who plays alongside Zetterberg on the team’s top unit. “We just have to find way to get that going, we’re losing a lot of games because of it.”
He sighed and added, “It starts in practice.”
Unfortunately, practice time is scarce at the moment.
“Obviously, in talking with the coaches, we have to generate more on the power play so that’ll be one area that we’ll look at,” said Jeff Blashill. “(But) given the number of games we’re playing and the number of games we’ve played and the number of games in a row, we won’t be able to do much of anything.”
The Wings haven’t had more than a day off between games since Dec. 8 and will play three games in four nights beginning Saturday night against the Ducks.
Said Mike Green, “There’s not much time on the ice these days.”
Blashill tried a number of different power play combinations against the Kings. He rotated between eight forwards and three defensemen, all to little effect. In eight minutes of power play time, the Wings managed just two shots on goal.
For a team that struggles to generate offensive pressure at even strength, its deficiency on the man advantage is crippling.
“Our problem, in my opinion, is we don’t have enough set-up time,” Blashill said. “Whether it’s we’re not winning enough battles when we’re facing pressure, whether it’s some self-induced turnovers, we’re just not spending enough time in the zone.
“And then when we do finally get it set up, teams do a good job of trying to keep you outside. We gotta find a way to get to the inside.”
The Wings spent far too much time on the perimeter during their power play opportunities on Thursday night. They held onto the puck for long stretches of time, but rarely penetrated the middle of the ice.
Zetterberg explained the dilemma between waiting for the perfect play and knowing when to shoot.
“You try to get the puck to the net, but when things don’t go your way it’s hard to give it away. You hit something and all of a sudden it goes 200 feet (down the ice), so you’d rather hold onto it a little bit more and wait for a grade-A chance,” he said.
Green feels the Wings have been entering the zone well, but need to move the puck more quickly. Nyquist, for his part, thinks their entries have been an issue.
Their differing views illustrate the depth of the Wings’ problems on the power play.
“I don’t really have any good answers for it,” Zetterberg said, “except that we have to work on it.”