WHEELING - In nearly every sport being selfish is looked upon as a bad thing. Hockey, though, is a bit different.
Through the first two games of the regular season the Wheeling Nailers (1-1-0 - 2) are averaging 19 shots per game, a direct result, Coach Clark Donatelli said, of not being selfish enough.
''I don't think we're looking. I don't know if we're trying to be too fancy or what,'' Donatelli said Tuesday following practice at WesBanco Arena. ''It's taking the puck to the net constantly and shooting the puck more.
''Especially at home we should be getting 40 shots a game, throwing pucks to the net and crashing the goalie.''
The Nailers would seem to be built to play such a game, so maybe the defenses are simply a bit ahead of the offense at this juncture?
''The offense is usually a little bit ahead of the defense, but this year our guys are committed to playing defense,'' the coach said. ''We didn't have many odd-man rushes and kept our third man high for the most part.
''We're working really hard, we just need to have some more O-zone time.''
The Nailers penalty kill was on the ice 10 times during the opening weekend and didn't allow a power-play goal against. That's good news for the coaching staff, which has seen good habits developing in that area during practice.
''It's the dedication and commitment to the guys of playing defense and being in the shot lanes to get blocks,'' Donatelli said. ''It's winning 1-on-1 battles. It's not glamorous (but) it's very important and it's something we take pride in.
''It's attention to detail, stick placement and how they're forechecking. And we're not letting them come in on the entry and then it's the one-touches, making sure that once we disrupt them we get the puck out on the first try.''
Conversely, the Wheeling power play is just 1-for-7, the lone conversion a one-time slapshot by Zack Torquato off a face-off victory in the opener against Elmira. Again, it's about shooting the puck.
Early Season Lull
The Nailers have one game this weekend, a Saturday night affair in Toledo. They've got Reading at home a week from Friday, but that's not until Nov. 1.
That's not a good thing as far as Donatelli is concerned. He's got a bunch of young guys right out of college and juniors who are struggling playing a three-line system in the pros.
''I would have liked to play at least one or two more games in October. We're only play three games in October and then we get blitzed with the 15 in November,'' he said. ''I think we've got one game here in the next couple weeks to pick up our conditioning and get into game shape as far as our young guys in terms of shift management.
''They're still learning.''
Count forward Carter Rowney among those finding his way.
'' I remember my first shift I was out there a little longer than regular. I remember coming back and just like that I was up again,'' Rowney said. ''It goes by fast. You've got to really take care of the body out there, make sure you're going short and hard and don't get gassed."
Shawn Rine can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org