Frozen Tools Forensics – Early Season Power-Play Concerns

by Grant Campbell on October 18, 2019

Some teams have played as many as nine games and some as few as four, but there are teams that are having very slow starts to their PP and as a result these teams might be looking to make some changes their PP units. Here are the bottom four teams so far this season with the man advantage:
 


Ottawa, New Jersey, Dallas and Anaheim are a combined three for 88 (3.4 %) on the PP and surely, if things don’t improve, personnel changes will be made to their PP units.

Within Dobber’s Frozen Tools, we are able to look at each team’s lines for the last game or even the last three games, including the power play.

Ottawa is at the bottom of the NHL for power play. The Senators have yet to score a goal with the man advantage after eight games and are 0 for 21 (while giving up one shorthanded goal). Here are the players from Ottawa’s last three games up to October 17, 2019:
 


Ottawa had the 13th best power play in the NHL in 2018-2019 but are now without Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel (who have combined for nine PP points this season so far). This is putting a lot of pressure on Brady Tkachuk (10 PP points in 2018-2019), Colin White (8 PP points in 2018-2019), and Thomas Chabot (16 PP points in 2018-2019) to essentially run the PP this season. This is not an improved power play from last season and could struggle to be in the top 25 in the NHL this year. The young players mentioned still on Ottawa will have their roles increased, but it’s arguable whether that will produce an increase in their PP production this year.

New Jersey has one goal from 25 PP attempts this season for a 4.0% success rate. The power-play lineup for the past three games has been:
 


This team is too talented to be struggling on the PP for much longer. The Devils were 21st in the NHL on the PP last season at 17.7% and have added Jack Hughes, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev , P.K. Subban, and a healthy Taylor Hall to improve their offensive special teams. I think New Jersey will be patient with most of the players they have currently, but might reduce PP time for Simmonds and perhaps give Damon Severson (12 PPP in 2018-2019) an increased role over Sami Vatanen. It’s a slow start for New Jersey, but they should be able to right the ship and improve on their league position last year on the PP.

Dallas has scored once in 24 attempts (4.2%) with the man advantage this year, while boasting a similar lineup to last season albeit with the addition of Joe Pavelski (one goal and one assist in first eight games):
 


Last year, the Stars were 11th in the NHL with a 21.0% success rate on the power play, with Alexander Radulov getting 23 PPP, Tyler Seguin 27 PPP, and John Klingberg 20 PPP. If players like Jamie Benn (one goal and one assist in first eight games) and Klingberg (one assist and minus-6 in his first eight games) continue to struggle, Dallas has Roope Hintz, Corey Perry and Miro Heiskanen ready to slot in and take up any additional PP TOI.

Anaheim was 24th overall on the power play in 2018-2019 with a 17.0%; so far this season, after seven games, they are one for 18 with a 5.5%. It will be hard to say early on if the Ducks have improved upon the power play, as they will need to slot in some young players and give them time to succeed. Cam Fowler is now in his 10th season of running the power play for Anaheim and has only exceeded 20 PPP once, which was in his rookie season in 2010-2011. He is like the Alex Edler of California.
 


It is the changing of the guard in Anaheim with Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler not on the team this season. Young players like Troy Terry, Max Comtois, Ondrej Kase, and Sam Steel will be given every opportunity to earn their PP TOI.

Detroit, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh are the only teams in the NHL currently not deploying four forwards on the first unit of the PP, a trend that was growing for the past few seasons but has become the norm.

It looks like Detroit tried the four-forward deployment for a few games with Dennis Cholowski but has gone back to the pairing of Mike Green and Filip Hronek with no success in the last game. It is anyone’s guess what they might do in the future.

Minnesota is using Matt Dumba and Ryan Suter on the first unit, but after such an awful start for the Wild, they might keep up with the rest of the NHL.

Pittsburgh uses Justin Schultz and Kris Letang, so they might as well have five forwards on the first unit. This works just fine for the Penguins, but is reliant on the health of both these oft-injured players.

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