Power play still awful, PK continues to step up
The Albany Devils continued to struggle on the power play, but they were solid on the kill in Saturday's 2-1 win over Adirondack as both teams were 0-for-7 with the advantage.
At one point, the Phantoms had a five-on-three advantage for 1:29 late in the second period. They failed to capitalize, and that's what Adirondack coach Terry Murray called the difference in the game.
"I thought the penalty killing was very good early in the game. They had three consecutive power plays in the first period, and I thought we did a good job with our kills," he said. "The one power play you've got to take advantage of, that was the critical turning point in the game, I thought, was the five-on-three. We missed those opportunities. We didn't get it set up. We didn't have the offensive zone time to get anything going, to generate any shots on net, even. To me, that's a missed opportunity, and it's a golden opportunity."
The Devils are now 2-for-47 on the power play in 10 games this season. That's a 4.3 percent success rate and worst in the AHL. Adirondack is now 8-for-65 through 11 games (12.3 percent), 23rd best in the league.
For a team that has scored just 17 times in 10 games, a few more on the power play could have done wonders for the Devils' now 3-5-0-2 record. They had three opportunities in each of the first two periods Saturday, and they sometimes put a little pressure on Adirondack goalie Scott Munroe, but they came up empty every time.
"That second period, we were just out of sync," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. "We've moved guys into different positions. It's just execution. We get in the zone, and it just seems to be blowing up on our sticks. We'll go back to the drawing board tomorrow. I really believe if we can just get the power play going a bit, it'll give us enough confidence to score some goals five-on-five, as well."
Still, the penalty-killing unit continues to do well. They were horrendous in the first two games of the season, allowing four goals on seven power plays. After Saturday's game, they have killed 82.7 percent of the penalties they've faced (43 of 52), good for 15th in the league.
"I think the PK is just a commitment thing," Kowalsky said. "[Tim] Sestito blocks a shot down there late. Again, your goalie has to be your best penalty killer, but our D have done a great job over the last three or four games. We've really gotten on them about being hard to play against. They're all big guys. It's not about fighting or anything like that. It's just about being tough to play against and really owning the front of our net. Last night, in Providence, there were a couple pucks off rebounds to the weak side, we had another one tonight where the guy's got an open net, and we win that battle. That's got to be our identity in our own end, and it starts with them. From a commitment and a work effort, our PK's been a lot better."