PROVIDENCE — Not only is Providence’s power play killing the team with ineffectiveness at the offensive end, it’s actually become a defensive liability.
The P-Bruins’ 0-for-10 showing with the man-advantage tonight ran their slump to 1-for-40 over the last seven games, but it was the club-record-tying three shorthanded goals allowed that really killed Providence in a 6-0 loss to Hartford at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The P-Bruins were outworked and outhustled by the Wolf Pack penalty-killers all night.
“When we do get our good looks, we’re missing the net. … We’re just not executing,” said head coach Rob Murray. “Marty (St. Pierre) hit the crossbar in the second period, which was a pretty good shot. But we’re not executing anything. … The execution of our power play just isn’t there and we’re not getting the good looks that we were earlier in the season. And I don’t know that teams are doing anything differently.
“For example, in the second period, I’m watching Johnny (Boychuk) and Jeff (Penner) throw it D to D and if it’s not rolling and bouncing, then it’s just an area pass. I mean, there’s no execution, there’s no poise on the power play. It’s disturbing.”
“It’s absolutely horrible,” said Boychuk, who was presented with the Eddie Shore Award as the top defenseman in the AHL before the game. “You can’t really say much more about it than that.”
The loss, combined with wins by Worcester and Manchester, postponed the P-Bruins’ clinching of a playoff spot for at least another night. Providence, which has now lost three in a row, also now trails Hartford by six points for first place (with Providence holding a game in hand).
“It’s like we’re just waiting for the season to be over and get in the playoffs. Well, we’re not in the playoffs yet,” a flustered Murray admitted. “Games are dwindling down and everyone else is winning games.”
Murray said he didn’t even address the team after the second period, when the club was down 2-0 and finished the session by squandering a two-minute 5-on-3 by taking a penalty just 41 seconds after the man-advantage start. At this point, he knows too much yelling could fall on deaf ears.
“We haven’t clinched anything yet. We’ve got to go out and approach every game like it’s a playoff game right now,” captain Jeremy Reich said. “We didn’t do that tonight and it showed.”
Providence plays two more home games this weekend before finishing the season with four on the road.