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Bandits losing games on special teams Opponents outscore them, 20-8, on power plays


Hockey teams convert an average of about 18 percent of their power play opportunities. Conversely, teams kill penalties at about an 82 percent rate.

Which brings us to the current travail of the Baltimore Bandits, who play the Providence Bruins (2-4-1) at Baltimore Arena tonight at 7 (WITH, 1230 AM). The Bandits, when competing a man down, have now allowed 20 goals, or 2 1/2 a game. On the power play, they have scored eight times, or one goal a game. It's called deficit spending.

When last appearing at home, against Worcester on Wednesday, the Bandits not only posted their first victory, but also outdid the opposition on special teams. Baltimore scored two power play goals to the visitor's one in the 4-3 victory. There was evidence the team might be righted.

Two losses later, neither of which could be called competitive, the team still looks as if it would be more comfortable somewhere back in training camp. The Bandits (1-6-1) surrendered four power-play goals each night as they were being drilled by Rochester, 5-2, and Cornwall, 6-3, over the weekend.

Coach Walt Kyle is seriously considering inscribing stone tablets of his own: Thou shalt not rough, hold, trip, charge, cross-check, interfere with or hold the stick of the opposition (fisticuffs permitted only if penalties are called on both teams).

Already Baltimore players have heard the coach refer to "a real lack of discipline" in the ranks and "lots of cases of the older, veteran players taking the dumb penalties."

If the team doesn't come up with a combination of players who can effectively kill penalties very soon, it could find itself easing back on the naturally aggressive style that leads to strong transition play and scoring opportunities.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, players expected to provide the offense for the Bandits have been "showing up."

Jarrod Skaldie, who has had tours of duty in four leagues, including the NHL, over the past five seasons, scored a couple of goals against Rochester on Friday. He then was excused from the game for a major infraction.

Eight games do not a season make, of course, and, after practice yesterday, Kyle said, "We'll be competing a lot better soon." His voice carried an "or else" tone.

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