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Pro Hockey | DUCK REPORT

It Has Been a Power Dive With the Extra Man

March 19, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Few things in hockey are as exasperating as a struggling power play.

Just ask the Mighty Ducks, whose power play ranks 16th in the NHL and has gone 0 for 30 in the last seven-plus games.

"We just won't shoot it," said Coach Mike Babcock. "It's been a concern.... Either we shoot the puck more or we'll have to fill with [different] people who will shoot it."

With a lineup of skilled players such as Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin, Petr Sykora, Adam Oates and Sandis Ozolinsh, the Ducks know they should be more effective when playing with a man advantage.

But the Ducks have scored only two power-play goals since Feb. 15.

"All the goals we score at this time of the year come when we just throw the puck in front and get people going to the net," Babcock said. "There's no secret here. You get the puck and as much traffic as possible to the net. The goaltenders in this league are just too good."

Ozolinsh was acquired from Florida in February partly to bolster the Duck power play, but that hasn't happened.

"When things are not going well, you have a tendency to force a little bit too much instead of keeping it simple and getting it to the net," Ozolinsh said. "We've had chances when we shoot the puck and get rebounds but, unfortunately for us, the puck just hasn't gone in."

*

The Ducks are close to getting forwards Andy McDonald and Kevin Sawyer back in the lineup. Both have been sidelined for most of 2003 because of post-concussion symptoms. They have been practicing and will be with the Ducks on their three-game trip, starting tonight in Chicago. Forward Dan Bylsma, who has sat out 26 of the last 28 games because of a knee injury, will also be with the team, but defenseman Ruslan Salei, out since March 5 because of a back injury, stayed home.

TONIGHT

at Chicago, 5:30, Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- United Center.

Radio -- KPLS (830).

Records -- Ducks 35-26-9-4, Blackhawks 27-30-10-5.

Record vs. Blackhawks -- 3-0-0.

Update -- The Ducks will be trying to complete a sweep of the Blackhawks this season. Anaheim has a 12-3-0-1 record against Central Division teams. Forward Steve Sullivan leads Chicago in scoring with 23 goals and 53 points.

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