Normally, Portland Pirates Coach Ray Edwards tends toward the positive when he talks about his team, but he couldn’t find much to praise after last weekend’s horrible three-game trip.
The Pirates traveled to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, but they left their offense, power play and penalty kill behind.
“I think we saw last weekend what the elite teams are like, and we know we’ve got a lot of work to do to be like that,” Edwards said after Tuesday’s practice at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
Following a stretch where it earned points in seven consecutive games, Portland went 0-3 while playing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Hershey Bears and Springfield Falcons. In those games, the Pirates scored a total of three goals while allowing 13. Their power play went 0 for 11, and their penalty kill allowed five goals in 14 opportunities.
“We got caught standing around watching good teams play, and I think we learned a good lesson,” Edwards said. “What we have to realize is we’ve got to move our feet. We’ve got to play with pace. We’ve got to battle.”
Before practice, Edwards showed the team a video compilation of last weekend’s lowlights.
“We weren’t trying to embarrass anybody,” he said. “We were dealing with the truth today, and the truth is we weren’t good, and we weren’t good in a lot of areas.”
The Pirates, 10-10-1-1 and tied for third in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, hope to get back on the right track before heading out on another three-game trip this weekend to upstate New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire.
“We’ve got a week of practice to work on it,” said veteran center Ryan Hollweg. “We just made some mistakes that you can’t make against the good teams in this league. You know, they exposed us, and we got to make sure we look after that this week and go into next weekend.”
THE PIRATES SHOULD get a boost from veteran forward Patrick O’Sullivan, who has played for five NHL teams the past six seasons.
The parent Phoenix Coyotes assigned O’Sullivan to the Pirates after he cleared waivers Tuesday morning.
“He’s with the (Coyotes) in Nashville, so he may have to go (back to Arizona) to clean stuff up, and my hope is he will be here by the weekend,” Edwards said. “He’s going to be a welcome addition.”
In 17 games with Phoenix this season, O’Sullivan has two goals and an assist. In 328 career NHL games, he has 58 goals and 102 assists.
Last season, O’Sullivan helped lead the Houston Aeros to the AHL’s Calder Cup finals. In 24 playoff games, he had four goals and a team-high 14 assists.
As a rookie, O’Sullivan, selected by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2003 NHL entry draft, scored 47 goals for the Aeros during the 2005-06 season.
THE PIRATES will have to make decisions after this weekend regarding the contract situations of forwards Ashton Rome and Igor Gongalsky, who both have only three games left on the 25-game professional tryout deals they signed before the start of the season.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’d like to have both of them and keep them involved,” Edwards said. “However that works out, that’s out of my hands.”
The two forwards, who play primarily on Portland’s checking line, could be signed to another PTO or to an AHL contract.
The final decision rests with Phoenix assistant general manager Brad Treliving.
“We are working through those issues now and I suspect we will have a better idea by the end of the week,” wrote Treliving, who serves as the Pirates’ general manager, in an email Tuesday.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:email@example.com