ANAHEIM — One of the Ducks’ power-play units is having a certain measure of success of late with goals in back-to-back games and three in the past five games.
Hint: It isn’t the first unit.
Left wing Frank Vatrano, the team’s leader in shots, has two of them and veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has the other, via the second unit.
“That’s been fun for us,” Shattenkirk said after Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. “We’ve just prided ourselves in keeping things simple. Even tonight, Max (Jones) comes in, fits in well. We didn’t try to do anything too fancy. And I think that’s what has worked for us.
“The main focal point is Frank, trying to get him in any sort of situation where he can shoot the puck. Adding Derek (Grant), net front, has been enormous. His presence there has been fantastic. We’re working hard and at least trying to create momentum for our team.”
It’s been working because the second-unit is “all on the same page,” according to Ducks coach Dallas Eakins, who added: “The power plays in this league don’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to be overly skilled. But they’re doing a lot of things right out there.”
Which isn’t the case with the first unit. The only member of the first unit to score on the power play in the past 19 games – almost a quarter of the season – is Mason McTavish. The rookie center, who leads the team in power-play goals with six, scored one against the Kings on Feb.17 and another against Montreal on March 3.
Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry each have four power-play goals. But Zegras last converted on the power play on Feb. 10 against Pittsburgh and Terry’s most-recent power-play goal was back on Dec. 15 in Montreal. The Ducks’ power play, overall, is 29th in the NHL.
Some of the difficulties can be explained by the absence of Adam Henrique, a veteran steadying presence on the unit, who has been out since Feb. 21 after suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. At this last stage, however, it wouldn’t make much sense for a veteran with little to prove to come back. The Ducks have 10 games remaining, six at Honda Center.
“If anybody knows their body, it’s Adam Henrique,” Eakins said Thursday morning. “He is incredible at understanding what kind of load he needs to put on every day. As he inches closer – he’s been out on the ice a little bit now – that will be more of a conversation.”
St. Louis at Ducks When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Honda Center
TV: Bally Sports West
Lisa Dillman | Ducks Reporter Lisa Dillman is the beat writer covering the Anaheim Ducks for the Orange County Register and the Southern California News Group. Previously Dillman has covered the NHL for the Los Angeles Daily News, the Los Angeles Times and the Athletic.