Minnesota’s power play is now ranked seventh in the country

Nine Minnesota forwards have power play goals, and eight of them have more than one.

Gophers forward Justin Kloos controls the puck while playing against Michigan at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 26, 2016.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Justin Kloos controls the puck while playing against Michigan at Mariucci Arena on Feb. 26, 2016.

Drew Cove

Penalties haven’t been uncommon for Minnesota’s opponents this season, and the Gophers have taken advantage.

Minnesota’s power play is in the top 10 nationally, the penalty kill is improving and it’s no secret that it has contributed to the Gophers’ success this season.

“I think a couple of things are important,” said assistant coach Grant Potulny. “Our guys do a good job on face-offs, so we start with possession. I think that’s understated in a lot of power plays; we do a really good job entering the zone, [and] we come in organized.”

No. 7 Minnesota (15-7-2, 6-2-0 Big Ten) will face No. 6 Penn State (16-4-2, 5-2-1 Big Ten) in a weekend series featuring two of the best power plays in the nation.

Minnesota’s power play, ranked No. 7, is one of the most lethal units in the country and has converted on 22.8 percent of the chances the team gets.

Nine Minnesota forwards have power play goals, and eight of them have more than one.

One forward who has multiple power play goals this season is forward Tommy Novak, who suffered a lower-body injury and is out for the season.

“I think you see the depth of it with the loss of Tom,” Potulny said. “You know, we lose Tom Novak, who’s arguably one of the best passers we have, and his hockey sense is outstanding. Those are two key components to the power play.”

The Gophers’ depth has allowed the coaches to insert players into the power play with success, like forward Taylor Cammarata who was in and out of the lineup until Novak’s injury.

One player who has continuously improved on the power play is captain Justin Kloos.

“When he came in here as a freshman, he was looking up to guys like [former Gophers forward] Travis Boyd,” Potulny said. “Justin’s worked really hard, and now his shot is right on par with those other guys where he can shoot pucks off the pass, and he’s a real threat.”

Now, the senior from Lakeville, Minnesota has 16 career power play goals.

Kloos has also been an asset to the team’s penalty kill. He has scored seven shorthanded goals as a Gopher.

“One thing that’s important that all of us centermen do is … start with the faceoff every time,” Kloos said. “Getting possession of that puck is huge for the penalty kill.”

Puck possession is integral to the success of both units, and Minnesota has done so a majority of the time. The Gophers have won 52.1 percent of face-offs this season.

Head coach Don Lucia said that the team’s penalty kill continues to improve, but he hasn’t been as impressed with the power play lately, even though they have scored goals.

“I’m looking forward to watching us play this weekend,” Potulny said. “The way that Penn State’s going to kill, they’re going to be very active, and they’re going to pressure hard, so if we can move the puck in a hurry, maybe we could have a couple of scoring chances.”