Four Power Plays Clicking in the Second Half

by Brennan Des on February 20, 2018
  • Lining Up
  • Four Power Plays Clicking in the Second Half


This week we take a look at some of the best and worst power play units since the beginning of 2018. Keep in mind, coaches often scramble their power play combinations, but the most offensively talented players usually see the most time on the man advantage. So, while some of these units might change as the season progresses, the core should remain the same.


Who’s Hot?


Sidney CrosbyEvgeni MalkinPhil KesselPatric HornqvistKris Letang


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 30.3%


When a power play features three of the league’s top 10 scorers, you know it’s going to be good. You probably expect Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel to be scoring above a point-per-game pace, which they are, but let me throw some more shocking stats at you. Malkin has five power-play goals in 2018. The Edmonton Oilers, as a team, have four power-play goals in the same span. Through 61 games this season, Phil Kessel leads the league with 33 power-play points. Nicklas Backstrom had the most power-play points in 2016-2017, he totalled 35 in 82 games. While you might attribute Pittsburgh’s power play success to each individual’s sheer talent, Coach Mike Sullivan highlights a different attribute:


It starts with their work ethic, their willingness to retrieve loose pucks, and their attention to detail. They can create so much just off loose-puck battles. When teams try to be over-aggressive, our guys can make one play to beat the pressure, and usually it ends up in a glorious chance.




Aleksander Barkov – Evgenii Dadonov – Jonathan HuberdeauVincent TrocheckKeith Yandle


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 28.6%


In the 2017 portion of this season, Florida actually had the seventh-worst power play in the league, managing just 19 goals over 38 games (15.8%). 2018 has been much kinder to them, as the Panthers have scored 16 times with the man advantage, over a span of just 18 games. While the team’s young offensive talent continues to develop and showcase their skill, 31-year-old Keith Yandle has done a great job of mentoring the kids. One of the most notable improvements in Florida’s power play is their ability to react to the opposition’s defensive style. As Yandle himself pointed out:


It just all depends what the other team’s doing, reading off of them. If there’s an open spot, trying it…you can learn tendencies from other players. Even your own teammates, you can learn tendencies from. I think it’s a big part of the game, obviously our coaches do a great job with it getting us ready for games.






Reilly SmithJonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonAlex TuchShea Theodore


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 28.6%


One of the most amazing things about Vegas is their depth scoring. Sure, this particular unit might currently be considered ‘number one’, but it’s actually Eric Haula and David Perron who lead the team in power play points (14). I was actually surprised to see that most of these guys had been given power play time in the previous seasons, with William Karlsson being the exception. Karlsson hadn’t really seen consistent time on the man advantage throughout his career, but this season he’s averaging 2:25 a game, and has a career-high nine power-play points to show for it. Although his previous career high was just a single power-play point…




Brendan GallagherAlex GalchenyukMax PaciorettyJonathan DrouinJeff Petry


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 26.2%


While his season totals aren’t very impressive, it’s hard to ignore how good a power play quarterback Jonathan Drouin can be. To set up the power play, you need to enter the zone, and that’s something Drouin is very good at. He has a great ability to stickhandle into open space, giving his teammates enough time to get into position. While Max Pacioretty has showcased his sniping abilities in the past, it’s Alex Galchenyuk who has become the primary shooter on the power play, and his killer one-timer has resulted in seven power play goals this season. Despite his diminutive stature, Brendan Gallagher provides an effective net front presence because he’s always banging away at every loose puck, never afraid to take shots from the other team after the whistle. With rumours swirling that Shea Weber could be out for the rest of the season, Jeff Petry doesn’t have much competition as the team’s lone defenseman on the power play.




Who’s Not?


Patrick MaroonLeon DraisaitlRyan StromeConnor McDavidOscar Klefbom


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 8.9%


How can a power play unit that features one of the world’s most talented players, have the least number of goals this calendar year? The Edmonton Oilers have four power-play goals in 2018, a span of 19 games. To give you some perspective, the Nashville Predators have had the second-worst PP% in 2018, and they’ve managed eight goals – double the Oilers’ output. It would be foolish to blame the team’s power play struggles on Connor McDavid, considering he leads the team with 14 power-play points. Who’s second you ask? Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and he’s been out for the last month with cracked ribs. Needless to say, the rest of the team hasn’t exactly pulled their weight. Living on the east coast, I don’t get to watch much Oilers’ hockey, but their struggles with the man advantage are dissected very well here. It seems they need to work on their one-timers.




Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonMikko RantanenTyson JostTyson Barrie


PP% (Since Jan 1, 2018): 15.0%


It’s hard to criticize Colorado’s power play performance in 2018 considering they were missing their best player for eight out of the 20 games they played. In those eight games, they managed just two goals on 26 opportunities with the man advantage. Remove that stretch and their PP% for the calendar year jumps to just over 20%. What am I trying to say? Nathan MacKinnon has a huge impact on the team’s success. But MacKinnon’s Hart-worthy performance has been well-documented this season, unlike Mikko Rantanen’s incredible performance. In just his second NHL season, Rantanen has 53 points in 57 games. Not only does he lead the team with 20 power-play points, but he sits 12th in the league for power play ice time. He’s seen more time on the man advantage than Evgeni Malkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Claude Giroux, Blake Wheeler, John Tavares, the list goes on and on! As you can see, this type of opportunity is usually given to proven superstars, which makes it all the more impressive that 21-year-old Rantanen is being given that same opportunity to succeed.




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13 responses to “Four Power Plays Clicking in the Second Half”

  1. Ommmzzz says:

    Another question, how can a team with one of the world’s most talented players have such a hard time drawing penalties? Oilers have had 15 less PPs than the 30th ranked team. Also McDavid has gone from drawing 0.611 penalties per game last year to 0.414 this year when there’s supposedly a higher crackdown? Something seems fishy…

    • starz31 says:

      The refs are certainly not helping him out either. There’s plenty of plays where McDavid’s greatness overshadows all the penalties he draws yet aren’t called.

      • OilersFanB says:

        Other teams get away with murder of McD. He still draws a good amount of penalties but not nearly as many as he should be. Almost of though the officials feel they can’t call every infractions since there would be so many

      • Nathan says:

        I sort of agree with this just from eye test alone… but man… if you think its just this that’s causing the problem and not what I highlighted above… If you really are an Oilers fan the problem starts and stops with Chiarelli. Plain and simple.

      • OilersFanB says:

        I’m not claiming that this is their only problem. Not by a loooong shot. They aren’t making teams pay with their power play even when they get the calls. Just isolating the fact that every game there are blatant penalties that McD’s speed creates that aren’t being called.

        I agree that Chia is a problem. His habit of losing trades and overpaying on contract (both $ and term) have set the team back. I don’t blame him purely for how bad the team has been, as it’s hard for a GM to predict that everyone of the team asides from McD, Drai, Nuge and Nurse would either be stagnant in development or would take a step back, but he does have his share of the blame to shoulder and it is painful.

    • Nathan says:

      Yeah, I mean… it’s sort of like when you trade away all your puck moving wingers in exchange for stay at home D-men and for cap space to sign aging tough guys you’re less likely to draw penalties? Huh, who’d a thought?

      • Nathan says:

        I mean to add stats that back that up… Eberle (15) and Hall (20) have combined to draw 35 penalties this year as opposed to Larssonn (7), Strome (4) and Lucic (3) at a combined 14. Not much of a mystery if you ask me. Replace talent with mediocrity and that’s what happens. If you’re interested McDavid has drawn 24 penalties this year.

      • Ommmzzz says:

        Don’t think that’s the reason. Considering the Oilers puck possession stats are still pretty good 5v5. It’s special teams and goaltending that has tanked them this year. Still doesn’t explain the lack of calls by 15 compared to the 30th ranked team. If you’re interested, the guy who was 2nd to McDavid in drawn penalties per game last year was Tkachuk who is let’s see…1st this year. The names in the top are consistent to last year except for McDavid.

        The real reason the Oilers suck is because they allow the first goal of the game 20% of the time on the first shot (11 games so far this season)

      • Nathan says:

        I don’t know how you look at that stat and say that that isn’t why they’ve dropped that far. Hall and Eberle have combined to draw 21 more penalties than the players they were replaced with on the Oilers. There’s your 15 extra penalties, literally right there man. Not some mystery or conspiracy.
        Drawing penalties is a unique skill separate from possession numbers- not all players are good at it, when you replace two very good players at it (Eberle and Hall) with 3 very poor players at it, the number of power plays you get will reduce drastically, which is exactly what I’m pointing out. McDavid is still very much near the top of the list too, I don’t think you can say him dropping to a tie for 9th on the list is some kind of conspiracy on penalty calls just because Tkachuk is in the same spot this year- that’s just misreading stats. They actively made the team around him worse, it’s hard to draw penalties when you don’t have players that can get him the puck or other players who are capable of drawing penalties or creating situations where penalties are called.

      • Nathan says:

        And no this isn’t the only reason the Oilers suck this year (goaltending sucks, coaching), but yeah, it highlights a major problem- the moves this GM made, made the team less dynamic and put a lot of pressure on McDavid to do everything offensively.

      • Ommmzzz says:

        Hall wasn’t on the team last year so year over year you wouldn’t be able to use him as a comparative. Puck possession in the OZone is what leads to powerplays. The Oilers are still league average at that 5v5 therefore one can infer they should be able to draw penalties at the same rate as league average regardless of who possesses the puck. Oilers were 15th in the league in PPs last year without Hall.

        I agree with you that the personnel changes have made the Oilers take a major step back and Chiarelli must go but that has very little to do with the penalties drawn when they aren’t taking in puck possession.

        Heck the Oilers have also lost something like 15 straight offside/goalie interference challenges dating back to last season. Luck has a lot to do it with it too. But with that I guess that means either McDavid will say hi to Svechnikov or Zadina on his wing or hello to Dahlin on his backend

      • Nathan says:

        For instance, Artemi Panaran has the best possesion stats in the league at this point, so by your logic, he should draw the most amounts of penalties in the league- he has drawn 20 penalties this year, not even top 25.

        Just to hammer this home:
        Top 5 Teams in Possession vs. PPO (PP Opportunites)
        1. Carolina 55% Corsi For – 13th in PPO at 189
        2. Chicago 53.8% CF – 1st in PPO at 219
        3. Boston 52/4% CF – 19th in PPO at 178
        4. Edmonton 52.2% CF – 31st in PPO at 151
        5 Vegas 52.1 CF – 15th in PPO at 184
        and my favorite
        29. Colorado at 47.1% CF – 2 in PPO at 216

        Luck is not even a part of it. There’s a reason they are so wild in shifting between the two and its because one does not correlate to the other. IT’s an individual skill to draw a penalty, which is a personnel issue.

      • Ommmzzz says:

        So what you’re telling me then is McDavid just all of a sudden lost his individual skill of drawing penalties then?