Actually, there are only two parts to a hockey season: When the power play is hitting and when it isn't.
A while back, newspapers in New York City took turns pointing out how the hometown NHL Rangers were having a tough time scoring goals with the man advantage. They made it sound as if, when the occasion arose, the Rangers should have seriously considered refusing penalties.
A better idea would have been to request a recess and put in a call to Binghamton, the NHL team's farm team in the American Hockey League. The upstate Rangers have been sensational on the power play this season.
It would serve the Baltimore Bandits well tonight if they kept their sticks and elbows to themselves and their hands in their gloves when they take on Binghamton in the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The Rangers defeated Carolina, 6-4, Thanksgiving night, mainly on the strength of three power-play goals.
That gives the team 41 goals with the man advantage in 18 games, and this constitutes 48 percent of its offense. The team is 10-8-1, a point out of first in the Southern Division.
The Rangers convert their power plays at 33 percent (26-for-78) at home, about 25 percent on the road (15-for-61) and 30 percent (41-for-139) overall, leading the AHL by a solid margin.
Meanwhile, the Bandits have improved in penalty killing over the past six games, but their 78 percent success rate (97 of 124) still places them in the lower half of the 18-team AHL.
"It's for sure we don't want to give Binghamton any extra chances by taking bad penalties," says Baltimore coach Walt Kyle, "but at the same time, you can't let it affect your play. We want to be aggressive."
Opponent: Binghamton Rangers
Site: Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena
Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WAMD (970 AM)
Outlook: The Bandits have improved dramatically of late, winning three of their past four games and going 4-2-1 in November. Binghamton could be a tired team, playing its third game in the past four days; Baltimore has played just once since last Sunday. The Bandits' line of Dwayne Norris, J. F. Jomphe and Mike Maneluk continues to wreak havoc, having accumulated 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) since being formed five games ago.