This weekend, the UConn men’s hockey team went 0-1-1 versus the Providence Friars, which, by itself doesn’t look too bad seeing as Providence is the No. 12 team in the country and in first place in the Hockey East conference. After all, it shouldn’t be expected for them to go 2-0 or even 1-0-1 against one of the best teams in the country.
But it’s made so much worse when you add in the fact that over the two games, UConn had 11 separate power plays, and only scored one goal off of them.
In Friday’s game, the one that finished in a 3-3 tie, the Huskies had 6 power-play opportunities, and on five of them the two minutes dwindled by without a goal, and sometimes even without a shot on goal. What about the other one? Well on that one, UConn wasted no time evening things up – by getting called for an interference penalty just two seconds into their power play – making it four-on-four hockey for 1:58.
In the tie, UConn was on the power play for almost five times as long as Providence but ended the game with the same number of power-play goals (0) and just two more shots (3-1). All in all, UConn was on the power play for 10:02, and during that time got one shot off approximately every three minutes and 20 seconds. In the other 54:58 when they were not on the power play, they got one shot off approximately every two minutes.
The second game was less egregious in the sense that they got a goal on one of their power plays, but they still got just four shots off in nine minutes.
Yes, in the entire weekend UConn had more power-play goals than Providence, but UConn also had a man advantage for almost six more minutes than the Friars. Not only that, but they got off fewer shots, one of theirs just happened to go in.
This isn’t something new either. This season, UConn has been one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to scoring on the power play, recording a goal just 10.5% of the time, good for No. 51 out of 60 in Division I. Their about 9% goal rate on power plays this weekend would put them at No. 54 if extrapolated out over the whole season, and in the Hockey East, they are only better than the 1-8-1 (0-6-1 Hockey East) Vermont Catamounts.
Yes, in game No. 2 they gave up five goals, the power play was not the reason they lost that game. But on Friday, they got six chances to score one goal, and that would have been enough to beat the No. 12 team in the country in front of a large home crowd. Instead, they either let them all run out without generating much if any offensive pressure or committed a penalty of their own to stop the advantage just as quick as it began.
Last season, UConn’s power-play percentage was No. 8 in the conference at 15.2%, and this year it looks like they have regressed. Throughout all of last year, they were minus-seven in special teams, and this year they’re already minus-six.
Sure, it’s early in the year and they’ve already lost some key players to injuries, but something has to be done to right the ship on special teams, or else it will be the story of the season.