In all respects, UConn’s men’s hockey power play has been terrible this season.
The Huskies converted just five of 48 chances (10.4%), the sixth worst score in the country. Of those five power-play goals, two were from a single game in Maine, another was in the season opener against Sacred Heart – whose penalty shootout percentage is 45th of 59 in the country – while another came to Ohio State – whose PK is 48th nationally.
UConn’s inability to do much with an extra skater (or two) was fully highlighted in the loss to Harvard on Sunday. The Huskies came back from a first hole to tie it at 2-2 and then had a 5-to-3 power play that lasted 1:48. But they only generated two shots on goal during the extended two-man advantage.
Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh recognized the shortcomings of the team on the power play, but also expressed optimism about their ability to turn the tide.
“It’s not something we can’t fix,” he said.
“I would equate him to a hitter who’s like 0-for-20. It’s not that you do things differently. You just have to go back to the basics and the fundamentals and simplify your swing and find a good pitch and hit it, ”Cavanaugh said. “I think the power play is very similar. You don’t need to have any gadgets. You don’t have to do anything that could deceive the opponent. We just have to go back to basics, shoot pucks, win battles, and we have to adopt the same mentality. “
The good news is the Huskies don’t have a talent or personnel problem. Their attacking group includes a lot of dangerous players and on the blue line they have enough attacks to make things work. Either way, the key to a good power play is often less knowing which players are on the ice and more how those players are performing.
“I’ve coached some very, very talented teams (as an assistant at Boston College) where three or four power-play guys played in the National Hockey League and they struggled on the power-play because you’re trying. to be too cute. and you’re trying to make this pretty game, ”Cavanaugh said. “A lot of times it’s just a matter of hammering him into the net and getting some rebounds.”
A persistent power play issue for UConn – both this year and in the past – is not pulling enough. Often times, the Huskies will pass the puck around the perimeter but not tear it up on goal or settle for a low percentage look.
Not only does UConn have to put more pucks on the net overall, but it has to be a better job to bring it down low and create good chances with assists and off-puck moves instead of just staying in an arc.
“What kills power play is unforced errors or, like in basketball, unforced turnovers when you throw the ball,” Cavanaugh explained. “Sometimes we do that instead of just taking the play they’re giving you and bringing it to the net. We try to sift it out of the box and it gets picked up, then it goes the other way around, then you try to crack the washer again. We need to reduce unforced errors and, like I said earlier, simplify and just put it on the net.
UConn’s main focus in training this week has naturally been power play. While movie reviews and one-on-one conversations with players are part of the process, most of the work is done on the ice.
As bad as the Huskies were on the advantage, they have plenty of time to turn the tide. Cavanaugh highlighted last year’s squad, which went on the power play 3-30 in one streak but then caught fire and went 11-33 in all eight games. following. The hope is that the current UConn team can achieve something similar and become a real offensive juggernaut.
“I like that we’re a 5-5 scoring team and we can score out of the attacking zone and we can score out of the race. Once we get our power play to complete that, that’s where we’ll be pretty good, ”explained Cavanaugh. “We can always win a hockey game by beating the opponent 5 to 5 [but] however, you will need to win special teams at the end of the season to win these tough and close matches.
While UConn did not have a sophomore striker Nick Capone or Hudson Schandor due to COVID protocols last weekend, Cavanaugh expects “full lineup this weekend,” he said .
How to watch
Dated: Saturday January 8
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Site: Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, MA
TV: NESN +
Diffusion: SportsLive (free)