DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings had six power play goals in their opening round series with the Anaheim Ducks.
Through three games of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks, they have yet to record a goal with the man advantage.
At practice Wednesday, Wings coach Mike Babcock tinkered with his forward units, keeping his top two lines during 5-on-5 play intact on the power play.
“We went through every single scoring chance we had on the power play in this series this morning,” Babcock said. “We talked a lot about our power play. We had a run through and let the guys see what’s going on and we tried to make adjustments. We’ve had some real good looks, but we haven’t scored yet. Sometimes when you get real good looks and you haven’t scored you stop shooting.”
If things remain the same from practice, Justin Abdelkader will be added to the power play, skating alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen.
“I don’t know, we’ll see, it was just one practice,” Abdelkader said when asked if he will see power play time in Game 4 Thursday at 8 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. “If I get the opportunity I’m just going to do what I do, go to the net, retrieve pucks and be hard on the puck.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Abdelkader added. “Things are constantly changing, constantly trying different things. If my name gets called I will be ready.”
The Wings are 0-for-12 on the power play this series, registering 16 shots on goal.
“Chicago does a good job blocking shots,” Abdelkader said. “We just have to find ways to get the pucks on the net, create second and third chances by getting pucks back. They’re a good penalty killing team and any team that’s that good on the penalty kill for that long is doing a lot of good things. I think just commitment to their system is why it’s working. We have to find a way.”
Chicago has not allowed a power-play goal this entire postseason, killing off 29 straight penalties.
“We need good net front presence, let’s pound the puck, let’s get it back, let’s throw it in there and create some chaos,” Babcock said. “We’ll get one. We’ll loosen up and get going. Right now our power play has to be a bigger factor than it has been in this series.”
Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Daniel Cleary made up the other unit up front, while the blue line parings remained the same – Damien Brunner/Niklas Kronwall and Carlo Colaiacovo/Jakub Kindl.
Colaiacovo agrees with his coach about creating more chaos in front of the Blackhawks goal.
“Get pucks through, traffic in front of the goalie and create chaos in front on their net,” Colaiacovo said. “It’s not like we’re not getting chances. The pucks don’t go in and sometimes those things happen. We’re confident in the groups we put out there. When they’re out there they’re going to get a goal or create momentum for us. That’s what a power play is for. You want to take advantage of the extra man, but you also want to make sure the momentum that comes off it stays on your side.
“Sometimes the best thing is to just get it down there, whether it’s on net or not on net, you just want to get it down there and create some chaos with their killers,” Colaiacovo continued. “When you’re retrieving pucks off rebounds or during chaos that’s when the penalty killers move and things open up.”
Through three games of the series, the first power play unit was made up of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen, while Filppula, Cleary and Gustav Nyquist was the second unit.
“We have to find a way to get through their layers of players that they present when we decide to take the shot,” Kronwall said. “We have to get the pucks in there. We haven’t done a good enough job of that. We have guys in front that are doing a great job and we have to make sure we get the puck in there.”
Zetterberg feels the Wings are generating more chances early in games with the man advantage, but once they have to lead it changes.
“Later in games when we have the lead and we get the chance on the power play we’re a little too cautious,” Zetterberg said. “We just got to be on our toes, keep playing, go for the next goal. We’ve been better on 5-on-5 and now we’ve just got to do it when we get a power play, too.
“It shows that they’re doing something right over there, but it’s a challenge for us to get that first one and hopefully it will come (Thursday),” Zetterberg added.
There are just two teams – San Jose and New York Rangers – out of those that are still in the playoffs that have been penalized less than Chicago.
“When you’ve had some success it’s an ongoing challenge,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They’re always looking for ways of doing different things and there’s probably going to be something we haven’t seen moving forward. So, it’s a changing of looks and making sure that you adapt. But commend the guys from the goalie on out on the job that they’re doing, but that’s always a work in progress.”