The Issues with the Power Play

 

From the outside looking in, a person would think that if you throw the skill the Oilers have on the ice, scoring with the man advantage would be easy. At times this season the PP has looked good. I would say it has been very streaky.

As of Saturday night the Oilers’ power play percentage is at 18.8%. That puts them at 13th in the league. They are a full ten percentage points higher at home, 23.7% compared to on the road, 13.8%.

I think for the Oilers to have long term success their power play needs to get into the top ten in the NHL. This will make teams less likely to be physically aggressive against them. Those physical games are the ones the Oilers are not currently in a position to handle.

In the blowout victory over the Avs the Oilers went three-for-seven with the man advantage. Just a quick look at the stats would suggest that the PP was rolling. I don’t think it was. These goals were scored off the rush or by a great individual shot or effort. It was not from a good entry, set up and finish.

I know what you are thinking "They scored three goals, so how can you complain about that power play?" I felt it wasn’t sharp and to be honest got lucky. Fast-forward to Saturday night overtime loss to the Flames. The Oilers go zero-for-six on the PP. It was the difference in the game and the luck they had against the Avs was nowhere to be found.

They did hit the post a couple of times at the end of the first period but can anyone really remember a point on any power play where you thought the Oilers really were in a groove, where they looked dangerous and organized coming up the ice?

As It Stands

The first unit consists off an umbrella setup at the top with Nuge and Eberle on the flanks and J. Schultz in the middle. Perron is in front. Hall or Yakupov are in the corner for low plays. There is always the threat of skill doing something great and a goal being the result. Some kind of structure will still produce goals when the skill isn’t at full power.

I don’t think Nuge or Eberle are in the right spots for their skill set. Both have good, dangerous shots but not one timer material from above the tops of the circles or higher. It just isn’t in their toolbox right now.

A quick glance at the list of top power play units in the NHL shows they all have defencemen that can pound the puck from the blue line. Dangerous power play units start will good shots from the point. A couple of passes down low to get the box moving. A quick pass to the point, drag to the middle and boom. The puck is on the net. This is the most basic pp set up and the most proven to have success. All other plays in the slot and down low are set up through good hard point shots.

The Oilers do not have a consistent shooter from the point that is a threat to score or create big rebounds in front. The opposing teams to not give those high guys a lot of respect so they can cheat low. This does not open the box up for the Oilers. When the box opens up the Oilers are dangerous with their dangerous passing through it for open looks at the net.

The result is the Oilers spend quite a bit of time on the PP working the puck around the outside of the box, a box that is kept tight because of a lack of blue-line shots. Eventually a puck is bobbled, the PK attacks, the puck is down the ice.

I think J. Schultz needs to get more aggressive with shooting from the blue line. He has thirty-two shots this season but many are off the rush or sneaking in the from blue line. He has the mobility to create an open lane for himself to the net from the blue line.

To get these looks J. Schultz needs to be at the right point. Put Nuge on the half wall on his side. Hall down low. Perron in front. I would then put Yakupov on the left point.

I know this takes Eberle off the first unit. It isn’t his play; it is that he is a righty and I want all the forwards except Perron (because he is in front) to be a threat to shoot.

Nuge can be a threat to shoot off the wall. If he slides it down to Hall a quick pass back is a one-timer from the slot. All four players are passes he can make. The easiest is the back hander up to Schultz.

Hall can jam or take the puck hard to the net from the corner on his forehand. It is a strong move even if he doesn’t score his aggressiveness will cause a rebound that can be slammed home.

Yakupov I want sliding in from the point. He can go back door, which often causes the net front defenceman to lose focus for a second. I would also want him sliding into the high slot. He can be a passing option there with his quick release. By sliding into that area he will draw one PK forward down with him. This will open up some room for J. Schultz to drag the puck to the middle and shoot. Creating a double screen, high and low, that Justin can shoot from.

Perron can just do what he does; I don’t need to explain that!

In the end J. Schultz needs to get more pucks to the net, plain and simple. Successful and consistent power plays start there. The low plays will open up from there.

Oh no Thornton

Shawn Thornton made a bad decision against the Penguins Brooks Orpik on Saturday.

I will defend fighting in the NHL but I can’t defend this play. It just should not happen. I played with Shawn. He is a straight shooter and he must have really been worked up to get to this point. He will be suspended a pretty long time for this one.

  • pkam

    You can’t one-time the puck with an 85 flex. These guys are all geared around the snappy wristy’s just look at the stick flexing when they shoot. Dont try and tell me Nuge is bending a 110 flex like that. A lot of guys in the nhl know it takes too long to get off a decent clapper a lot of the time so they engineer their twigs to take wicked wristers which is fine but not for one-timers. Anyone who has ever tried taking a solid one-timer with a whippy stick knows what im talking about, its like trying to shoot the puck with one of those foam noodles you play with at the pool. J.Schultz is clearly one of those and has a decent wrist shot but ironically i saw him attempt a one-timer a few games back and the thing exploded like it was rigged with dynamite. Sheldon Souray was the last Oiler with a legit blast from the point, I can guarantee you he wasn’t on some 85 flex. Men playing like boys, what can you expect?

  • mk

    Eberle learning how to do one-timers would certainly help the powerplay.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him take a pass and then settle it down before either the chance is nullified by the defenseman or the goalie is already in position to make the save.

  • Shoot the puck and go for rebounds. Set up one time shots. They pass the puck around too much. They don’t look up to see where other players are on the ice to pass the puck to. No chemistry out there, they should read each other like a book, be where the puck is going to and shoot it. I don’t get it when they pass the puck around and turn it over then have to go back and reset the offensive zone again.

  • oilerjed

    It is painfully clear that RNH on the rightside half boards didnt work. The PP stalled almost completely while he was there. Spent too much time looking for a play and the PK only had to stand their ground and keep their sticks in the lanes. Almost no movement at all. And Yak at the point is a nightmare.
    Seems the PP has the most movement with RNH at the Left point and YAK on the right halfboards. Yak and the Right point shot can play pass until a shot opens or swing it too RNH on the left side and down to Hall. Whichever side that doesnt have the puck can slide into the high slot and help screen the net or slide back out if there is no shot.
    The main ingredient, as has been mentioned repeatedly, is to shoot, shoot, shoot. I would think a 2-1 pass shoot ratio should be the goal.