Can the Florida Panthers’ power play catch fire again?
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The power play fueled whatever success the Florida Panthers had in the first half of the season.
When the team came back from its 10-day break around All-Star weekend, however, the well seemed to dry up.
As Florida struggled to score on the power play, wins became hard to come by.
The Panthers hope to rectify things as this new season opens up.
On Saturday, with just over a week to go before the team travels to Toronto for its next challenge, coach Joel Quenneville got his special teams units together.
As expected, the first power play unit was a familiar one; it is the same five players the Panthers have used — save for injury — since they initially opened training camp in September.
Florida has a lot of firepower at its power play disposal from quarterback Keith Yandle through Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman.
In the playoffs, more so than during the regular season, special teams can make a huge difference.
The Panthers just hope they can find the success they had scoring with the man advantage against the New York Islanders as they did in the first couple months of the season.
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Of course, in three losses to the Islanders this season, the Panthers went 1-for-10 on the power play.
The Panthers and Islanders open up a best-of-5 game qualifying series in Toronto on Aug. 1 at 4 p.m.
“It is important because those guys really generate some offense off those situations,” said Quenneville, whose team ended the regular season ranked tied for 10th in the league with a power play success-rate of 21.3 percent.
“It also helps us 5-on-5 and in our team game. They really sparked us in a lot of ways — whether they scored or not. Sometimes a tough power play can really lose the momentum in a game and those shifts can change the complexion, give life on the other side.
“Most of the year, these guys were generating offense. The production was high-end. When we do that, it is an effective power play. It slowed down at the end of the season so it is important on a day like (Saturday) that the guys move it around and see what it can generate.
“It can really influence a game and a series.”
Going into the All-Star break, the Panthers’ power play was clicking although still not on the pace they had last season. In 2018-19, Florida set a franchise record by scoring at a 26.8 percent clip — second only in the league to the high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning.
Coming into its Feb. 1 game at Montreal, the Panthers’ power play was ranked sixth in the league with 38 goals on 155 chances for a 24.5 percent success rate.
The Panthers went 0-6 on the power play in a 4-0 loss to the Canadiens in a game in which Barkov went off with injury.
Over the course of the final 20 games before the NHL’s pause, the Panthers scored just seven power play goals on 56 chances (12.5 percent).
During that time, the Panthers went 14 games without a power play goal, losing 10 of those games. From Feb. 8-19, Florida did not score while with the man advantage, going 3-4-0 in those games.
Florida did snap a six-game scoreless streak by getting a Hoffman goal on its only power play chance in a 2-1 win over St. Louis in what ended up being the season-finale on March 9.
Hoffman and Dadonov ended the season leading the Panthers with 11 power play goals each.
TRAINING CAMP, DAY 6
Quenneville said the Panthers had all 30 players participate in practice Saturday in Coral Springs meaning they have had 100 percent attendance in four of five practices.
On Wednesday, Noel Acciari missed the workout for a maintenance day.
The Panthers will take Sunday off and return to the IceDen on Monday.
— Defenseman Riley Stillman left the March 7 game against Montreal with an injury and did not play in the following game against St. Louis. He said Saturday that he was feeling good after leaving with what was thought to be a concussion.
Stillman has been working with Anton Stralman on Florida’s second defensive pairing since camp reopened Monday.
Lines for Florida Panthers appear set a week into training camp
— Last week, Islanders coach Barry Trotz said knowing his team would play the Panthers allowed for a lot of in-depth scouting.
Aside from breaking down the three games played between the team, Trotz said he and his staff were able to watch a lot of Florida’s games to try and find “their strengthes and weaknesses. See if we can affect their strength, exploit their weakness.”
Quenneville said his staff has been doing a lot of the same stuff when it comes to scouting the Islanders.
“I think it is comparable, what they’re doing to us. We have been watching their games as well,’’ Quenneville said. “You can say this-or-that about the Islanders, but they are a hard-working team with some skill and have some guys who want the puck.
“They work hard getting to the net, work hard preventing you from getting to the net. That is an area where there’s a price we have to pay. We have to be tough and strong in front of our net. Talk about the technical aspects, but a lot of it is going to come down to who is better in that tight area.’’
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Who took Stillmans spot when he went out? Thanks!
Josh Brown I believe