GLENS FALLS — Numbers don’t tell the whole story with the Adirondack Thunder’s power play.
In their recent three-game series against Florida, Adirondack went 0 for 2, 0 for 3 and 3 for 10. That means it had a 20 percent success rate, in line with its 20.2 percentage for the season and one that ranks second in both the North Division and Eastern Conference and fourth in the league.
On one hand, the fact that the 3-for-10 effort came Saturday in the last of the three games means the Thunder learned from their mistakes and improved. On the other hand, when the power-play unit didn’t score, it generated few scoring chances. It even gave up two shorthanded goals to the Everblades, increasing that season total to nine, which is the third most in the Eastern Conference.
Feast or famine isn’t the way the Thunder want to play on special teams.
“Props to them, they had a pretty good neutral-zone kill,” Thunder forward Brian Ward said of Florida. “They were doing a good job of closing us off at the blue line. They obviously did some scouting on our breakout, but it’s really just a matter of competing, because it’s not a power play until you have possession of the puck.”
Associate coach Alex Loh, whom head coach Brad Tapper has put in charge of the power play, said that it starts by winning the opening faceoff on the power play. If that happens, things are much easier. But if it doesn’t, then you have to examine what is causing the problems.
“You’ve got to look at the video a lot because sometimes we could be zero for four but generate 15 scoring chances, and then you don’t touch it — bad luck kind of thing,” Loh said. “Against Florida we were struggling to get set up, so it’s more digging in the weeds of it.”
Ward said it’s ideal to have possession going into the zone, but with Florida holding the blue line so well, it meant more dumps into the offensive zone.
“It’s a little tougher after a dump to get the puck back, but we do have a plan for dump,” Ward said. “We have a set play; guys know where they’re going to optimize our chances to get the puck back.”
On Saturday, the Thunder were better than they had been the first two games about getting quick scoring opportunities. Their first power-play goal came seven seconds after the penalty. They began the third period with the extra man, and scored 25 seconds into it.
On other power plays, however, the Thunder never got untracked. Loh was concerned that the players weren’t winning the individual battles against the Everblades.
“Even the last game, I know we scored three power-play goals, but there were a few points where we let up on the gas and got outworked. Saw the same thing against Brampton last weekend. That’s the first thing, you have to outwork them. You have the extra guy, so do what you need to do to take advantage of it,” Loh said.
Sometimes that means changing the personnel or the structure, and Loh admits there are always some things in “the back pocket” that can be pulled out.
“We made a quick adjustment going into the third Saturday night and we scored 25 seconds after that, so it’s always good when that stuff happens,” Loh said.
Beyond video, Ward said addressing problems such as the power play can also involve more time drawing things on the whiteboard. Mostly, though, it comes down to communication and execution.
“We know our game plan works because we’ve had success with all our game plans in the past,” Ward said. “You tweak it a little bit, maybe give a little extra effort and find a way to make it work.”