The Portland Pirates returned home after Saturday’s loss — their third in a row — and took Sunday off before getting back to work figuring out what was working during a seven-game point streak, and how to get the team back to that point.

The team’s general manager, Phoenix Coyotes’ vice president of hockey operations and assistant GM Brad Treliving, broke down the team’s recent struggles simply.

“I don’t think the team had a great week,” Treliving said. “But the one staple of this team, there are very few nights where this team isn’t working hard. I didn’t think the execution was great offensively, but for the most part the players were working hard.

“There are players here who have shown in the past they can produce,” Treliving added. “And the other part of it is, you never hear a player come to you and say, ‘Play me less.’ When guys have been asking to play more, we’ve given these guys that chance to play more, in different situations, and they need to show the results.”

With two goals scored in three games, including Saturday’s 3-0 shutout loss at Springfield, offensive production has been at a premium.

One thing that may help the slumping goal-scoring numbers is the return of Gilbert Brulé. The 26-year-old was on a tear for the Pirates, with six goals in four games, when he left the team, ostensibly to sign with a Russian team in the Kontinental Hockey League.

In a sudden reversal this week, Brulé returned to the Pirates, and signed a two-way deal with the Coyotes, contingent upon clearing waivers. He did so Sunday and will officially rejoin the team this week.

“It’s like you say with the weather: If you don’t like it, wait an hour,” Treliving said of the Brulé situation. “Obviously he did change his mind, but from our side of things, nothing happened at all. From the beginning, we brought him in because we felt that if he can get his game back to where we think he can, he can help the club going forward.”

Treliving said he doesn’t fault Brulé one bit for exploring all of his options.

“He got presented with an opportunity, and from a financial standpoint, there was an allure to it, and we completely understood,” Treliving said. “After looking at it, he definitely wants to pursue the opportunity with us. It’s an organization that knows him, he’s comfortable here, and he knows that if he plays the way we know he can play, there’s a spot for him here.

“And let’s face it,” Treliving continued, “we’re not talking about an over-the-hill player playing out his last string here. He’s still a young man with plenty of energy left in him.”

Another factor that, on the surface, appears to contribute to a lack of consistency with the Pirates is the higher-than-normal number of call-ups from Portland to Phoenix. But, Treliving said, it’s only an excuse for so long.

“Sure this league is about call-ups, and we’ve had a lot of players come and go, but that can’t be an excuse,” Treliving said. “We need more from a lot of players, and particularly on offense.”

The reason for the variety of players being called to Phoenix at different parts of the season so far is simple, according to Treliving.

“The best guy comes,” Treliving said. “Obviously if we need a guys for a certain role or situation, we have to be mindful of that, but our motto for call-ups is simply, the best guy comes. And that’s why you’ve seen so many different players get called up. Based strictly on performance, they were deserving. Call it a motivational tool or whatever you want, but when we need a guy, we’re taking the best. It’s a meritocracy.”

The Pirates resume practice Monday and will next play a three-games-in-three-days set beginning Friday in Worcester. The team will skate at home Saturday against Manchester before traveling to Providence for a Sunday matinee against the Bruins.


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