WWYDW(TE): Fixing the power play

The Oilers have had a disappointing last few days, dropping back-to-back games against the Canucks and Blues, two teams you’d expect them to beat. I wouldn’t say Edmonton was thoroughly outplayed in either game but a big part of both losses was poor special teams.

In particular, the Oilers power play against the Blues was putrid. The Oilers went 0/5 with the man advantage against the Blues, a team that ranks in the bottom third of the league in goals against. As Jason Gregor noted in his article yesterday, Edmonton has converted just three goals in 33 opportunities in 10 games in the month of December.

Back in 2016-17 when the Oilers made the playoffs, they had the league’s fifth-best power play, scoring on 22.86 percent of their chances. That was a key part of the team’s success as it took a tremendous amount of pressure off the team scoring at even strength. Last year, the Oilers had the league’s worst power play, scoring on just 14.76 percent of their chances. This season, they’re right in the middle. The Oilers are scoring on 19.27 percent of their power plays, which is just below league average. Given the talent, the Oilers have on their roster, you’d expect Edmonton to have a much, much better power play than they do.

That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday THURSDAY EDITION question. How do you fix Edmonton’s power play woes? 

Mar 18, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) skates with the puck during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The big issue for the Oilers recently in regards to the man advantage has been the loss of Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom was the quarterback on the first power play unit, providing the first pass and the big shot from the point. Now, they have Darnell Nurse in that role in Klefbom’s absence.

Who else do you play in that spot if Nurse isn’t the answer? Matt Benning moves the puck fairly well and has a decent shot from the point. Chris Wideman, who hasn’t seen much action since being claimed off waivers, is supposedly a good power play quarterback who played on Ottawa’s second unit behind Erik Karlsson in the past. There’s also the possibility of using five forwards on the first unit, adding a guy with a good wrist shot like Jesse Puljujarvi to the mix.

The other issue is a completely ineffective second unit. The first is loaded with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Alex Chiasson, leaving the second unit with a random group of players who are struggling offensively. Against St. Louis, they rolled out Ty Rattie, Tobias Reider, Milan Lucic, Jason Garrison, and Matt Benning. I know there aren’t many options available, but that group has combined for five goals this season.

What say you, Nation? How should the Oilers fix their struggling power play? Can the second unit be salvaged given the lack of depth on the roster? 

  • dsanchez1973

    They need to abandon the setup with a guy on the goal line and move to the more standard (now) 1-3-1 with a central point man, and two wingers attacking the flank. The goal line jam play hasn’t worked all year, and the PP is too often ending up with McDavid or Nuge on the half wall with the puck, a well covered player in the slot, and no cross ice lane to pass without hitting a stick. What ends up happening is the player on the half wall plays catch with the guy on the goal line, and eventually they pass it back to the point for an ineffective shot.

    If they move to the more standard 1-3-1, with Nuge and McDavid on the flanks, it should be very possible for them to pick between the options of the far side one timer/bumper between the hashes, or shooting if the net front is screened. Ideally, I’d put PP1 with Benning at the point, McDavid on right side half wall, Draisaitl in the bumper, Puljujarvi on the weak side flank, and Lucic (I understand he’s not producing, but in this formation, his job is just to cause chaos, not to score) in front. PP2 would have Nurse at the point, Nuge half wall, Brodziak on the bumper, Chiasson weak side flank, and Khaira in front.

  • rnj

    Perimeter passing while standing still doesn’t work.

    Look at good powerplays… Players moving their feet and carrying the puck to draw a defender, then kicking the puck out to an open man who is now uncovered in scoring position. Then they shoot with a man in front of the goalie trying to screen and battle for rebounds.

    Maybe they score, maybe goalie covers and there’s a draw, maybe they lose possession. But there’s constant pressure at the net followed by attempts to score.

    The Oilers gotta stop passing around endlessly. Even at 80% pass completion that means 1 in 5 get picked off and sent down the ice.

  • TKB2677

    I have said it many times, they do not have enough shoot first guys on the PP. If you look at the current PP, they have Chiasson who is a really good screen, tipping guy so he is the net front guy. They have a point man -Klefbom/Nurse, then they have 3 guys, all centers who like to be set up guys in Nuge, McDavid and Leon. So who shoots the puck? Answer is no one. What do we see all the time? 97 to 29, 29 back to 97, 97 to 93, 93 back to 97 or 29, back and forth, over and over again. Eventually, a shot might come from the point that gets blocked out goes wide or after 5 or 6 passes, maybe one of 97, 93, or 29 might shoot. Some PP’s they don’t shoot AT ALL, just pass it around. So with that in mind, then need to take off 1 of 97, 29, or 93 and replace him with someone who’s sole job is to stand in a spot and shoot. Do nothing else. You don’t have to be Ovie or a sniper. Just a guy, preferably right handed who is able to one time the puck or get a shot off quickly. My god, Letestu, a slow, 4th line center scored 11 PP goals doing exactly that. Letestu is not a sniper, he just stood in a spot, waited for a pass and when it came, got the shot off quickly. That’s it and it WORKED!!

  • OldOilerFan

    I’m a little confused, help me out: I thought we hired 3 new assistant coaches this year, one was a power play specialist. Who is actually coaching the PP?

  • Oil9744

    Oh man the PP is a mess, first of all there needs to be WAY more of a shooting mentality on the power play, not nearly enough pucks going to the net right now and way to much passing. They turn the puck over so many times just making passes around the perimeter it’s so frustrating, they should be limiting the passing a lot more and focus on shots getting to the net. I say that cause guys like Chiasson and Looch in front of the net will getting those rebound goals in front of the net more often then not. The 5 lefty’s is a joke, only recently they have Chiasson up front on the PP now and he’s a righty but won’t make to much difference lefty or righty wise in front of the net, they NEED a righty and lefty on either side of the hall walls for the one timer!! (Connor and JP) Also Connor needs to shoot a lot more on the PP as well, he was shooting more before on the PP and having great success, he needs to get back to that as apposed to passing all the time. I think the Oilers should try these like on the PP and go from there.
    JP Drai Mcdavid

    Rattie Drake Nuge

    • TKB2677

      I like your first unit PP. Just tell JP to stand in a spot and do nothing but shoot it. You your second unit, I would go even further and swap out Lucic for Khaira. Lucic doesn’t seem to want to completely stand in front of the net like Chiasson , so if he won’t do that, why good is he?

      • Oil9744

        I’m going to try to defend Lucic cause he has been a disaster, but in front of the net is probably the best spot for him, even in 16-17 he got almost all his points on the PP in front of the net.

  • Whaler

    I would prefer to switch RNH with McDavid. Nuge can run a pp off the half wall and can find people (McDavid) cross seam or back door. McDavid and Drai can skate around and switch positions as they see fit to get things moving and shaking. Get nuge the puck on the halfwall with the defenders moving and have Chiasson step out into the slot. Either him or one of the other two forwards back door will be open. For the love of Gord do not ever go back to 5 lefties. How do you run a pp off the right half wall with all lefties. Dumbest idea ever. Leon can take one timers so that could be another set play get nuge or McDavid the puck on the left wall and find Leon for the one T.

  • Rama Lama

    I would find any player that has a shoot first mentality and put them on the PP……….the excessive perimeter passing followed by a cross seam pass has been figured out by just about every player on the planet.

    We need to have guys that want to shoot……….small give and gos seem to work as they do not allow for stick in the lanes. Let DN blast them from the back end and reward guys that get the puck to the net.

    I’m positive that this will work, but there seems to be little appetite for this amongst the coaching staff.

    • OilersBro

      Drake Caggiula in the bumper spot! Jesse where ovechkin plays. Gives Jesse the shot or pass option to Drake coming down the middle recieving the puck on his forehand.

  • Set Benning up to lob some legendary PP action softy wrist shots from the point. Set Looch as screen and Benny can float them up and over the goalie. Really launch them up there, orbit some Benning space rockets.

  • Arfguy

    Under no circumstances should Milan Lucic be on any of the power play units. I realize they are paying him a lot of money and, again, he looks like he is actually working hard. However, he will not get you points. My answer?

    1st PP unit – McDavid, Puljujarvi, Chiasson, Benning, Nurse
    2nd PP unit – RNH, Draisaitl, Rieder, Rattie, Wideman

    Connor basically refuses to shoot. Also, his shot isn’t that great. I love having Connor on the Oilers, but he needs to work on his shooting (one-timers, slap shot, wrist shot). It boils my blood, but he is always looking to pass first. So give him nothing but people who want goals. Puljujarvi, Chiasson, Benning and Nurse would much rather score goals. If you leave nothing but shooters, eventually someone will take a shot.

    Second unit is the one that I hope will lead to Draisaitl making most of the plays. I think he defers to Connor too much during the power play and does not use his shot, which is pretty amazing. With RNH and Draisaitl on the second unit, you don’t have to run the first unit dry.

    I don’t know if this will dramatically improve, but at least you are forcing plays and change. This team has gone stagnant, regardless of how many games they won in the last 10. They need a drastic shot in the arm.