The exhibition season had Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay concerned.
After scoring just 10 goals in six games, Ramsay wondered where the scoring would come during the regular season.
That has not been a problem – and the power play has been a big reason why.
Entering Saturday’s NHL schedule, the Thrashers had the No. 3 power-play unit in the league. They have scored 23 goals in 94 chances with a man-advantage, a 24.5 success rate. Through 23 games, the Thrashers have 72 goals. Their power play makes up 32 percent of that offense.
“Overall we rush the puck up the ice extremely well,” Ramsay said. “Now you’ve got entries with speed. And we’ve won a lot of battles. The key to any power play is you are out against a desperate group that knows they are shorthanded and they put their hardest working guys out there. We’ve won those low battles and have gotten [the puck] back to the point. Our point men have done a really great job of shooting for goals, shooting for tips, shooting for people.”
The Thrashers want shots from the point on the power play. They are getting them from Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. The pair entered Saturday tied for fourth in the NHL with 12 power-play points. Part of the key, according to Ramsay, has been the Thrashers ability to modify the power play if opponents are protecting against the point shot. The team’s power play often ran into problems in previous seasons when opponents keyed on former Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk’s one-timer from the faceoff circle.
“[Enstrom] gets to the point where he wants to get it to [Byfuglien] because he wants to shoot it so much. You can hear him all over the rink yelling for the puck.”
Ramsay pointed to Rich Peverley’s power-play goal against Montreal Friday night. The forward took the puck high along the faceoff circle and wristed a shot into the back of the net.
“If [opponents] get to the point where the opposition is that worried about our point shots then the other guys start scoring goals and one feeds off the other,” Ramsay said. You have to work together. You have to have both of them in your arsenal if they cheat on something you can use something else.”