February 12, 2011
Rush up when down
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - It’s a special situation for the Edmonton Rush’s special teams.
While their power play was second-worst in the NLL heading into Saturday, they are second-best at scoring short-handed.
“I think our athleticism is a big part of it,” Rush head coach Derek Keenan said of their production on penalty kills. “I know we’re going to get some transition stuff and we’re actually trying to create scoring chances when we’re a man down.
“We’re trying to get to the net to try and draw penalties the other way and we’ve had some success at that.”
A measly eight goals with the man advantage was only better than the Toronto Rock’s six, while the five they scored killing penalties was only bested by the Calgary Roughnecks’ eight.
Rush leading goal scorer Ryan Ward — who has nine on the season — is in a five-way tie for second place in the NLL with a pair of short-handers, behind Calgary Roughnecks forward Scott Ranger.
However, Ranger’s seven power-play tallies has him second overall behind Boston Blazers forward Casey Powell.
Although Powell’s 10 power-play goals were enough to single-handedly eclipse the Rush’s efforts through the first six games of the season, there is no denying Edmonton’s ability to respond short-handed.
Of course, it helps when the bounces start going their way.
“We’ve had that same effort in Calgary but we just couldn’t finish,” said Rush defender Bill Greer.