West: Looking at the Power Play (2016)

by Doran Libin on November 14, 2016

A close look the power plays of NSH, ANA, CGY, ARI, WPG and LAK

 

This week focuses on the six power plays from around the Western conference, including two of the best, two of the worst and two with interesting developments. Power play time has always been a driver for top players accounting for up to 30 points over the course of a season. It may have an even bigger impact on middle six players. Last year Ryan Spooner saw a major change in his power play usage, and finished the season with 17 of his 49 points on the power play. That was a huge change after never having played 30 games or registered 20 points previously in his brief career. This year Brandon Pirri serves as a quality example of the effect of quality power play time as he 2:38 of his 12 minutes of ice time per game come on the power play. That has been a significant factor in his start to this season. With skill players playing down the lineup as much as ever the power play can help to compensate for otherwise missed opportunities.

 

The Good:

 

Nashville (24.1%)

 

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

James Neal

14

3.64

58.6

2

2.36

17.67

16.33

Roman Josi

14

3.59

57.8

5

5.97

13.14

13.73

Ryan Johansen

14

3.30

53.1

5

6.50

7.80

13.04

Mike Fisher

10

3.09

52.6

3

4.15

12.46

14.58

Filip Forsberg

14

3.10

49.9

5

7.12

17.08

17.14

PK Subban

14

3.01

48.5

2

3.39

3.39

16.67

Mike Ribeiro

14

2.53

40.7

1

1.75

5.25

17.24

Colin Wilson

14

2.45

39.5

2

3.55

10.66

17.86

Ryan Ellis

13

2.41

38.9

6

11.65

11.65

24.24

Craig Smith

13

2.31

37.4

2

4.00

9.99

12.50

 

Nashville’s power play is top 10 in both goals for per 60 minutes as well as shooting percentage but remains outside the top 10 in shots per 60 minutes. In the last three seasons only five times has a team finished a season with a shooting percentage of 16% or higher. Thus it is far more likely that Anaheim remains amongst the top power plays in the league than it is that Nashville does so. This is borne out by Nashville’s standing in the as a middling team in terms of both expected goals and scoring chances on the power play. The good news is that Nashville has excelled at drawing penalties this year as they have averaged nearly four power play opportunities per game through their first 13 games. That is the most penalties drawn per game in the league, and as such even if their shooting percentage drops, the sheer volume of power plays that the team receives will make up to some extent for an almost certainly falling success rate. Furthermore, it looks from the above table that Mattias Ekholm has lost his place on the Nashville power play, but that is not the case. He is receiving the most power play time has ever received, the problem is that it is still under two minutes per game.

 

Anaheim (21.8%)

 

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

Cam Fowler

16

3.90

65.9

6

5.77

16.35

13.89

Corey Perry

16

3.83

65.0

6

5.88

15.69

15.07

Sami Vatanen

16

 

3.75

63.7

5

5.00

13.00

13.43

Ryan Getzlaf

13

3.81

60.7

6

6.05

9.68

10.17

Ryan Kesler

16

3.38

57.4

6

6.65

14.40

13.43

Rickard Rakell

7

2.31

41.4

2

7.42

11.12

20.00

Kevin Bieksa

16

2.21

37.1

1

1.69

16.95

6.06

Jakob Silfverberg

16

2.07

35.4

1

1.81

9.05

8.00

Hampus Lindholm

3

2.50

32.8

0

0.00

24.00

0.00

 

The Anaheim power play is one of only four in the league that averages more than 60 shots per 60 minutes, and of those four it has the highest shot rate amongst Western conference teams. The shot per minute mark is a shot rate reserved for only the most prolific power plays and not one that Anaheim has been able to reach over a full season. The Anaheim power play has been successful in large part due to this prolific shooting rate as their on-ice shooting percentage while on the power play is middle of the pack at the moment, and at 12.5% it is entirely sustainable as it that has basically been the mean team power play shooting percentage in the league for the last three years. The Ducks do not just generate shots at a high rate they are one of the best teams at generating high danger shots as they have the second best scoring chance rate and the third best expected goal rate in the league. As long as this continues the members of their top unit (Fowler, Vatanen, Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler) can expect to continue to produce power play points at a high level. The big winner is Fowler, as even with Lindholm’s return to the lineup he has remained a focal point on the power play. This status puts him in a new group amongst defensemen as it makes 40+ points a possibility with an outside shot 50.    

 

The Bad:

 

Calgary (9.4%)

 

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

Mark Giordano

16

3.51

60.5

1

1.07

12.81

4.65

Sean Monahan

16

3.30

57.5

1

1.14

9.10

4.88

Johnny Gaudreau

16

3.25

57.2

1

1.15

8.08

4.88

Troy Brouwer

16

3.04

53.1

2

2.47

2.47

8.11

Dougie Hamilton

16

2.79

48.5

1

1.35

16.15

3.03

Dennis Wideman

9

2.51

41.9

0

2.65

29.18

17.39

Sam Bennett

16

2.32

40.4

1

1.62

4.85

8.33

Mikael Backlund

16

2.23

38.6

1

1.68

5.04

11.54

TJ Brodie

16

2.14

37.5

2

3.51

5.26

12.00

 

Calgary’s power play is reflective of the struggles of the team as a whole as their top players have not had the expected success. There are a number of problems with Calgary’s power play as it is one of the worst at generating shots while also being one of only six teams to give up more than 11 shots per 60 minutes with the man advantage. There are not many positives either on the Calgary power play as they do not generate scoring chances at a high rate, second lowest in the league, and naturally have a very low expected goal rate. The shooting percentage for the power play is bound to improve from its current depths but they are not doing anything well or drawing penalties at an especially high rate. The news gets worse as the Flames shot rate was not much better last year than it is now, although they have generally been slightly better at generating scoring chances, but not much better. If there is a positive it is that the Flames’ best players are not particularly reliant on the power play for their points as Gaudreau only got 21 of his 77 points last year on the power play.

 

Los Angeles (9.8%)

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

Drew Doughty

16

3.72

64.5

1

1.01

14.13

3.39

Anze Kopitar

15

3.45

61.9

2

2.32

12.77

3.85

Jeff Carter

16

3.27

56.7

1

1.15

6.89

3.77

Tyler Toffoli

16

3.03

52.6

3

3.71

22.05

7.55

Jake Muzzin

16

2.64

45.8

1

1.42

23.50

10.53

Alec Martinez

16

2.63

45.7

3

4.27

35.60

8.89

Tanner Pearson

14

2.27

36.3

1

1.89

18.92

5.88

Tom Gilbert

10

2.12

36.1

1

5.92

0.00

12.50

 

As the Flames power play is very reflective of the current fortunes of their best players the Kings’ power play is reflective of their general style of play, namely high shot volume but comparatively low scoring chance and expected goal rates. The kicker for the Kings is that outside of their shooting percentage, last year through the start of this season is the best their power play has looked since the 2012/13 lockout season. In previous years they struggled to reach 50 shots per 60 minutes whereas since the start of last season they have averaged nearly a shot per minute on the power play. The Kings will naturally have a lower than average shooting percentage because they do not generate a ton of scoring chances, which can be seen in their low expected goal rate. Keep an eye on Martinez and Muzzin as if one of them grabs control of that power play time have a huge impact on their respective point totals.

 

The Interesting:

 

Winnipeg (16.7%)

 

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

Dustin Byfuglien

17

4.28

68.3

1

0.83

13.21

7.59

Blake Wheeler

17

3.72

59.5

3

2.85

12.34

7.81

Mark Scheifele

17

3.70

59.3

4

3.82

11.46

7.25

Patrik Laine

17

3.35

54.0

5

5.27

21.10

10.00

Nikolaj Ehlers

17

3.22

52.1

1

1.10

8.77

4.76

Mathieu Perreault

11

2.80

43.4

1

1.95

17.54

7.69

Adam Lowry

17

2.68

41.5

2

2.63

10.52

5.26

Jacob Trouba

2

3.58

37.9

0

0.00

25.17

20.00

Drew Stafford

6

2.38

35.7

0

0.00

12.59

6.67

Tobias Enstrom

15

2.13

32.2

3

4.96

3.31

9.09

 

The Winnipeg power play is of interest for a couple reasons, the first of which is the generational switch therein. There are three new faces on the Jets’ top unit in Scheifele, Laine and Ehlers. The changes are working though as this power play has all the makings of becoming one of the best in the league. It already is a shot generating machine with a middle of the pack scoring chance rate, which has taken a huge step forward from last year. The Jets power play already features Laine in a very similar role to that of Alex Ovechkin in Washington. While it does not have a Backstrom level passer it has a better secondary weapon, Byfuglien, than the Capitals’ power play. It is only a matter of time before this power play explodes which will be big for the top unit. Right now that top unit includes Nikolaj Ehlers, as he has bumped Mathieu Perreault down to the second unit, a development that is unrelated to Perreault’s injury. Over the last few years Perreault’s power play slot has been worth around 15 points for him, making this a big adjustment to Perreault’s value. Keep an eye on how Trouba is worked in to the power play as it currently looks like he will slot into the second unit as the likely focal point.

 

Arizona (11.9%)

 

Player

Games

PP TOI

PP TOI%

PP Pts

PP P60

PP SF60

PP On-Ice SH%

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

14

4.61

86.5

3

2.79

10.22

12.20

Alex Goligoski

14

3.01

57.1

2

2.84

4.26

6.45

Martin Hanzal

9

3.26

55.8

1

2.05

8.19

11.76

Radim Vrbata

14

2.91

55.4

2

2.94

14.71

13.64

Max Domi

14

2.81

53.4

1

1.53

6.11

13.04

Dylan Strome

6

2.35

45.2

0

0.00

0.00

0.00

Michael Stone

5

2.03

40.4

1

5.92

4.79

14.29

Anthony Duclair

14

2.06

38.8

0

0.00

6.23

4.76

 

If youth is being served on the Jets power play the same cannot be said about Arizona. Domi is getting the fewest minutes of anyone on the Coyotes’ top unit, while Duclair is getting second unit minutes, Strome gets limited use when he is in the lineup and even that dwarfs the time received by Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun. Two years ago that would have made sense as they were in the midst of a run of having on of the consistently best power plays in the league. That is no longer the case as last year they slipped to a middling power play and this year they are a solidly in the bottom 10. That change has coincided with a significant drop in their shooting rate from upper 50’s to 40’s last year to 36.9 shots per 60 minutes so far this year. This is also the first time since 2013/14 that Ekman-Larsson (OEL) is not getting the most shots on the power play. In that sense the struggles this year have a similar feeling to how their power play started last year, although no forward is getting the minutes similar to those Mikkel Boedker got last year. OEL has produced at least 20 power play in each of the last three years, thus a poor power play, would effect him the most. The heavy veteran focus to the power play will hold back the Coyotes’ youth from reaching meeting pre-season expectations.

 

Statistics for this week’s column from Dobberhockey.com, stats.hockeyanalysis.com and Corsica.hockey