Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDT: Fixing the Power Play

During the 2017-18 season, the Edmonton Oilers finished the year with the 31st ranked power play in the NHL despite having the best player in the world on their roster. So in this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday Thursday, I want to know what you would do to fix it.

We’re only 79 days away from a new Oilers season and that means we’ve got just over two months left to figure out a gameplan to get our boys back in the playoffs. Alright, so maybe we don’t really have anything to do with it, but it’s fun to pretend that we have some kind of say in the matter. And from where I blog, one of the biggest and easiest ways to ensure more success for the upcoming season is for the Oilers to fix the power play. If they can do that, turning the man advantage into more of a weapon than a time waster, then I think we’ll all be much happier. With that in mind, the topic for this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Thursday edition) is all about what tactics you guys would deploy to help fix the power play that so often seemed to spin its wheels.

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For me, the fact that the Oilers finished the season ranked dead last in the NHL on the man advantage is nothing short of shocking, especially when you consider the firepower they have up front. Are there still holes and question marks? Sure, but they still have enough skill on the roster that finishing dead last shouldn’t be an option. The interesting part, though, is that much like the penalty kill, the Oilers had a sizeable gap in the results when they were at home as opposed to on the road. Why does that happen? It’s a good question and one that I’ll need your help finding an answer for.

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Bakersfield Condors sign Jakob Stukel, Yanni Kaldis

In total, the Oilers had 210 power play opportunities last season, which the lowest number of PP chances in the NHL I should add, and had limited success both at home and on the road, though they were better at Rogers Place. Let’s look at the home and away splits:

Home: 18.3% – 23rd overall – 20 goals on 109 chances
Road: 10.9% – 31st overall – 11 goals on 101 chances
Total: 14.8% – 31st overall – 31 goals on 210 chances

Last week, Dusty also looked at the power play and gave us all a dose of real talk that I don’t think anyone would have expected:

How ineffective was the Oilers top unit last year? Well, here’s a little bit of a wake-up call. Connor McDavid finished with 20 power-play points, Jeff Petry had 23. The Oilers captain finished 69th in the league in points on the man advantage. The only other Oiler to finish in the top 200 was Draisaitl with 11 points.

Looking at the numbers above, it’s no stretch to say that the Oilers really struggled to get anything remotely positive done on the road and were only slightly better at home. That said, for some reason, the team with Connor McDavid on the roster got royally screwed in terms of power play chances, but that’s a story for another day. Besides, it’s no surprise to anyone reading this that the refs called next to nothing in favour of the Oilers and the numbers don’t lie. Even so, what we’re trying to do today is offer up ideas to fix the power play so that when the Oilers do get one of those rare chances with the man advantage that they’re able to make something happen with it.

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Connor McDavid walks through his top-five favourite plays


So what should the Oilers’ coaching staff do to fix the power play? I don’t have the answers. What I do know is that what was happening last season wasn’t working and we need to figure out a fresh approach that can turn the special teams into the lethal unit that we need it to be. How does that happen? Fortunately, this feature depends on the ideas that are living in your brain box and I’m asking what you guys would do to get the Oilers back on track when on the man advantage.

What I want to know is what you think the Oilers should do when setting up in the offensive zone with the man advantage. Where do they go? Who plays where? Which side of the ice does Connor set up on? Who are his shooting options? You get the idea.

Furthermore, I want to know how you would split up the units. Does McNuge stay together on the first unit or do you have Draisaitl with Connor because we know they can make magic? Maybe you overload the first unit and have McDraigent-Hopkins in the hopes that they get things done so efficiently that whoever plays on the second unit doesn’t matter as much?

With that in mind, I’m asking all of you to put on your coaching hats and come up with a power play system that works. Gord knows we need all the help we can get. What do you guys think?


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  • That's My Point

    Bouchard on D should improve the PP significantly.
    MOST shots in the entire league last season.
    MOST points on his team.
    The OILERS have been lacking this type of Dman for years.

  • ubermiguel

    When something is as broken as that power play I say strip it down to the bare basics. 2-1-2 power play, coaches crack the whip to make sure the puck is moving often enough and the players are moving for optimal position. In the off-season tell the defencemen to practice shooting and hitting the net.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Coaching will improve the PP immensely in my mind. Also, I wonder just how often the coaches last year asked the players for their input? Especially when things weren’t going well. You’d be amazed how effective professional hockey players are when asked to come up with ideas & plays on their own lines… I don’t think the coaching staff allowed that much last year?

    • OriginalPouzar

      This is actually the opposite of true – he always changes with the 1st unit and there is an argument that he should play more minutes on the PP, the odd shift with the 2nd unit (the full 2 minutes).

      The bigger issue is that he’s currently not all that great on the PP and there is an argument that Nuge is currently the best PP QB.

      Lets be clear, I’m confident that McDavid will become elite on the PP just like he is in pretty much every other offensive area of the game but this is one area of his offensive game that requires continued development.

  • Bills Bills

    Arranging the pp around CMD soley is a mistake. RNH is a PP wizard. Put Nuge as the QB and use McDavid as a trigger man, it will seriously give the other teams something to think about. I run a loaded first unit of CMD, Nuge, Dria, Lucic and Klefbom. Not having a right shot is an issue so depending on how the players actually play I would switch Dria with JP or with Bouchard. But the PP needs to run through Nuge to make McDavid more of a threat as a shooter.

  • Abagofpucks

    Anybody who thinks Mcd is a selfish player must not watch the oilers much. And ill say if your not planning your powerplay around one of the best players in the league then i have to question your sanity. Also using lucic on the powerplay might be short sighted because i think we have better options than him.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I think 97 and 93 need to stay together for sure. The biggest problem to my eye, was 97 having the puck on the half wall and being ZERO threat to shoot from that spot on the PP. The opposition knew he never shot, and would sell out and take away the cross ice pass. Literally made for wasted possessions over and over again. If 97 can learn to get a puck or two through to the net and create chances from the half wall, it will open up the cross ice passes which should help out.
    Having a guy who can shoot the puck from the point is another issue. It doesn’t even have to be a cannon, but just past the first shot blocker and at the net, creating deflection opportunities and or rebounds….so basically the opposite of what Sekera does, and Klefbom did last year.
    Heaping that burden on a teenager is not the best idea in my opinion either. Running a PP in the OHL is a lot easier than the NHL.
    So if 97 can shoot from the half wall, and point shots get through on a regular basis, the PP will improve. Having Mike Hoffman on that unit for a bag of pucks and some draft picks wouldn’t have hurt either……

  • TKO

    With Glen Guluzton running the power play, you should be able to at least do as good as the flames did last year with the man-advantage…. I’m sure GG will get it figured out, with Looch replacing Brouwer as the all important piece

  • Abagofpucks

    I would say the lack of a big shot from the point really screwed the pp . With a bum shoulder klef couldnt hit a bull in the ass from 10 ft , But im sure his shoulder is a lot better and he will be a difference maker this yr.

  • Bond

    Hate to point out the obvious, but Lucic needs to be stapled to the bench as he produced nothing for half a year. McD and Nuge stay together on the first unit with JP Klef and possibly Brodziak? 2nd unit is Leo’s to run with Reider Khaira and Sekera, possibly Bouchard if he makes the team otherwise Darnell

  • Muleman84

    My thought process is to mirror the Caps PP, so….
    Drai-(Gretz office)
    Klefbom. (McD feeding Pool one-timers
    Aberg(Gretz office)
    So McD feeding right shot one timers and RNH feeding left shot one timers

  • Oilman99

    Drai and McD cant play on the same pp team. They get tunnel vision looking to set each other up and the puck moves too slow. JP Needs to get schooled for the one timer like his buddy Leine.

  • Redbird62

    Besides having to improve their efficiency, the Oilers need to play a more up tempo game which should result in more power play opportunities. They had almost a historically low level of opportunities in 2016-17. Maybe one reason the pp was so poor is they got so little time to practice it in a game situation.

  • BR

    Put Hopkins as the main QB on the PP1 with Mcdavid playing as a floater on the other side set up as a shooter, that alone will drag the whole PK off balance and put Poolparty out there as a trigger man with Klefbom manning the other side.

    Puljuvarvi – McDavid – Hopkins

  • Its.Not.Me.Its.You

    try nurse!! establish threat from the point, more shots from the point will eventually make room down low for forwards aswell keep players on the same unit when at all possible let them build chemistry. And work work work on the passing game not only on the power play, nothing but good things will happen when the whole team works on passing!! just my arm chair opinion

  • Consultant

    I want two right shots on each unit.
    Two best QB’s on right half walls are McD and Nuge so I would split them, Nuge on PP2 comes on for first forward off. McDavid stays on as long as he can.
    Bear/ Bouchard Kelf

    Reider Lutch Nuge
    Bouchard/ Bear Sekera

  • FutureGM

    Unbelievable how many people want Bouchard on the pp let alone the team next yr! Even Hedman and Ekblad had pedestrian first couple years in the league, no chance a kid playing under the microscope doesn’t get their confidence destroyed by fans and the media alike when they eventually get owned by highly skilled NHL veteran men. Plus, it would burn a year off his ELC
    Stupid, Stupid, Moronic, asinine!
    btw, Ethan Bear looked good last year. If any young RHD should get a crack, he should before Bouchard

  • PP1:
    Puljujarvi – Khaira – Draisaitl

    McDavid is a wizard behind and around the net. Having him on the half wall doesn’t make sense when Draisaitl has a better one-timer. Khaira is there in front to kick Lucic in the butt. Klefbom needs to get more accurate on his shot, but he’s got a good one. Khaira also gives you some speed to get back and can protect the other players.

    Strome – Lucic – Caggiula

    Lots of competition for the point-spot.

  • toprightcorner

    With no top notch right shot wingers or dman, I would flip McDavid to the RW wall. Sure it is his off hand and they say that leading the PP like that is not the best option, but we have Connor Freakin McDavid. On his off hand, he is still better than anyone on their good hand.

    This will set him up to feed one-time biscuits to Klefbom from the point, slide saucers to Draisaitl across ice, shovel quick passes to Reider for tap ins at the side of the net and intentionally deflect the puck off Khaira in front of the net. Our best players shoot left so put McDavid in the best position to set them up.


    Next step is to play McDavid for the full PP. He can rest during the PK, but he can handle 2 min dancing with the puck in the offensive zone.

    For the second unit, flip the script and put the righties out with McDavid. Put Benning at the point, who I think is a much better option than Sekera on the PP. Benning can take the 1 timer or pass back to McDavid for the shot. Throw JP on the “Ovechkin” dot for the seam pass from McDavid or 1-timer from Benning. Put Strome as the low bumper on the left side of the net for the slap pass from Benning, a screen, tip in or the low cross the creas pass. I then put then shuffle the Nuge from the goal line on the right side for the low pass where he passes across to McDavid, or Benning sneaking in, or across the crease to Strome. Nuge has great vision and playing low really opens up the dmen as they have to respect McDavid on the half wall. It also moves McDavid a little higher on the half wall to enable him a better angle to use his shot an create more open seams for the across ice pass.

    Strome – Nuge
    JP – McDavid

    Those to line combos, positioning McDavid where he can set up the most possible one-timers on 2 different line combos is putting the PP in a position to succeed. Who cares about “you just don’t QB a PP from the players off hand on the half wall” tradition, McDavid can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. It will also force the defence to have to play 2 different systems on the same PP.

    Those saying McDavid can’t play the full 2 minutes are insane. Firstly, he’s McJesus and can walk on water as he skates on ice and he won’t be playing the full 2 minutes all the time as they will be cashing in goals that he will get som short PP shifts.

    That, my friends, is how you utilize the best player in the world to make your PP a force to be reckoned with.