The Nashville Predators have worked hard to simplify their power play. It has not been as easy as it sounds.
“We’ve tried to simplify,” left wing Steve Sullivan said. “… I think it’s just a matter of tight sticks, a matter of forcing the issue a little bit and trying to press so hard to get something done. Right now we’re feeling the pressure.
“It’s just a matter of going out and making the right reads, the right plays and hopefully the pucks will start going in.”
For the last couple weeks, power play work has been a part of virtually every practice session. All of that effort, though, has not produced the desired results.
Through Monday night the Predators were last in the league for power play goals (three) and success rate with the man advantage (8.3). At that pace, they would finish the season with 25 power play goals, 15 fewer than the all-time low set in the inaugural season of 1998-99.
They converted once in the season-opener against Dallas and then equaled a franchise record set in 2002-03 when they went seven consecutive games without scoring on the power play.
“I think the first five or six games we were too stagnant — just standing around and trying to make the pretty play,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “We’re not the prettiest of players. We have to go out there and shoot the puck, hope for bounces and battle it out.”
Of course, a proficient power play does not guarantee success. Nashville (3-6-1) needs only to look at its next opponent, Minnesota (7 p.m., Xcel Energy Center) for proof of that.
The Wild (3-8-0) entered the week tied for fifth in the league with 12 power play goals and a 21.8 success rate, which ranked 12th.
That accounts for more than half of their 23 overall goals, yet they are the only team in the Western Conference with the worse record than the Predators.
“It’s a confidence thing,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Minnesota has half of their team goals on the power play, so they have their confidence going in that area. They’re not doing a whole lot different than what we’re doing. Pucks are just finding people.
“We have a plan and we have people who can perform on it — it’s executing on it.”
Still, when they have done so they have won.
The first power-play goal of the season was part of a 3-2 shootout victory over Dallas and the other two came last week in a 6-5 overtime victory at Ottawa.
“We’re doing the right things,” Trotz said. “We practice it a ton. It’s just executing and getting some pucks through.”
• Defenseman Dan Hamhuis practiced again Tuesday and was expected back in the lineup Wednesday. He missed the last four games with an upper body injury.
His return gives the team seven available defensemen. After keeping just six on the active roster for the first couple weeks of the season Trotz says he plans to keep seven for the foreseeable future.
• Forwards Jason Arnott (upper body) and Jordin Tootoo (hip flexor) remained sidelined. Arnott skated on his own and did some stick-handling drills Tuesday, which created optimism he will miss no more than two weeks, as originally hoped.
Trotz said the earliest Arnott could return is Saturday at home against Dallas. The more likely time for his return is Nov. 5 at Anaheim.
• The Predators have used 25 different skaters in the first 10 games this season. Last season, they used 28 over the entire 82 games.
“We’re throwing spaghetti against the wall a little bit to see what sticks,” Trotz said. “…We’re not getting enough production from the guys throughout our lineup.”