Let s clear up the rumor.
No, the Storm is not hiring Mini Me, the tuxedoed singing star of Fifth Third Bank s interest-rate commercials.
Although when it comes to describing the franchise s power-play rating, one could easily picture Verne Troyer crooning, “So low, so low.”
After eight games, the term man-advantage has become an oxymoron for Toledo.
In the 31-team ECHL, only Bakersfield s “success rate” of 5 percent is worse than the Storm s conversion rate of 8.7 percent. Toledo has scored just four goals in 46 chances.
Pensacola leads the ECHL at 37.1 percent.
Adding interest to the low rate, the 4-3-1 Storm is 26th overall in shorthanded goals allowed - two. Both came in the first period of last Friday s setback at home to Cincinnati.
“The games we ve lost were because of shorthanded goals against and a lack of power-play goals for,” said Storm center Adam Edinger, who has one PP goal. “In this league you need to win not only five-on-five, but also the special-team battles, to win games consistently.”
With starts tonight in Johnstown and tomorrow at home against Wheeling, Toledo will have more time to figure out whether it has a point-driven man advantage unit or one that uses forwards to work off the rims of the circles.
“Our power play is searching for an identity,” said Storm rookie defenseman Ryan Leasa. “I ve got faith in our forwards. Our forwards are, bar none, the best I ve seen so far in this league. I know there s a feeling-out process [going on] for them, and that goes for the defenSemen, as well.”
The getting-to-know-you period has been reflected in the various forward and defensive power-play pairings that Storm coach Steve Harrison has used during the first three weeks of the season.
He s tried special units up front, rolled his regular lines and put forwards back on the point. Nothing has clicked.
“We haven t found a set group yet that can do it,” Harrison said. “It s early and we re going to work with different people to see who can do the job. I look at the power play as a privilege, and I want guys who step up and get that extra ice time.”
The solution to getting more chances and additional ice is to keep it simple, the coach said.
“We re trying to be too fancy. We ve got some skilled players, but we want to make five passes before we shoot. We want them to make one or two passes and then show shot. Eventually our skill will take over, but right now we have to simplify it.”
Finding a consistent focus on the power play, and, for that matter, throughout each game, is something Leasa said he and his teammates must do - if they want to compete in the well-balanced Northern Division of the ECHL.
“Focusing in has been a little bit of a problem for us,” Leasa admitted. “But once we get focused, nothing but good is going to come out of this group.”
NOTES: Toledo will be without defenseman Brandon Fleenor this weekend. He suffered a hand injury during a fight Saturday in Wheeling and has been placed on the seven-day injured reserve list. ... Backliner Kyle Kos yesterday was placed on the seven-day injured reserve list, retroactive to Tuesday, because of a thigh problem.
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