Power Ranking the Most Potent Power Plays Early in 2013 NHL Season

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Power Ranking the Most Potent Power Plays Early in 2013 NHL Season

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    Winning the battle on power plays is supposed to give an NHL team a big edge over the course of a season.

    As NHL teams approach the 25 percent mark of their schedule in this shortened season—12 games—there is still a long time to turn things around.

    However, patterns have been established, and teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues have already asserted themselves with the man advantage.

    Interestingly, teams like the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings are at, or near, the bottom of the power play rankings. The Bruins are off to a stellar start overall, though, and the Rangers were the preseason Stanley Cup favorites.

    Still, those teams could become much more formidable if they could show some improvement on the power play.

    Here's a power ranking of the eight best power play teams in the league so far in 2013.

8. Phoenix Coyotes

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    The Coyotes were one of the most productive teams in last year's postseason, advancing all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

    The early part of this season is not going well for Phoenix, though, as they have a losing record and are in 10th place in the Western Conference following their Feb. 7 home loss to the Blackhawks.

    But Dave Tippett's team has been solid on the power play. They have scored 10 power play goals in 44 power play opportunities. Mikkel Boedker and Steve Sullivan have both scored two power play goals.

    While they have only had 14 power play opportunities while playing on the road, the Coyotes have converted four of those opportunities into goals—giving them an impressive 28.6 success ratio away from home.

7. Florida Panthers

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    The Panthers have not been able to build off their first-place showing in the Southeast Division last year.

    They have struggled out of the gate with a 4-5-1 record, and they are struggling to stay in touch with the division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Despite their slow start, Florida's power play has been working quite well. The Panthers have scored 10 power play goals in 44 opportunities. They have been particularly effective at home, scoring seven times with the man advantage in 21 attempts.

    Defenseman Brian Campbell has been a force on the power play, scoring four goals with the man advantage.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    It's no surprise that the Penguins have one of the most explosive power plays in the NHL.

    Any time you can put out a power play that includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang, you are supposed to be successful with the man advantage.

    The Penguins have gotten off to a sharp 8-3-0 start and have moved into first place in the Eastern Conference after beating the Capitals on Dec. 7.

    The Penguins have scored 12 power play goals in 41 man-advantage opportunities. Neal leads the Pens with four power play goals.

5. San Jose Sharks

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    The San Jose Sharks have been one of the most eye-catching stories in the early part of the 2013 season.

    They started the year by reeling off seven straight victories, but they have cooled a bit by going 0-2-1 in their last three games. Still, it's clear that the Sharks have a chance to cause significant damage this year.

    The power play has been a big part of their success. They have scored 13 power play goals through their first 10 games, and much of the credit must go to left wing Patrick Marleau, who has already scored five goals with the man advantage.

4. Montreal Canadiens

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    The Montreal Canadiens have put their last-place finish in 2011-12 behind them and appear to be a legitimate playoff contender in the Eastern Conference this season.

    New coach Michel Therrien has demanded discipline from his players and they have taken advantage of their opportunities with the man advantage. Through their first 10 games, the Canadiens have scored 13 power play goals in 55 opportunities.

    Defenseman Andrei Markov leads the team with four power play goals, while Tomas Plekanec has three goals with the man advantage. Hard-shooting P.K. Subban is another major power play weapon who has already scored twice on the man advantage since ending his holdout.

3. Edmonton Oilers

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    The Edmonton Oilers are a team that has a boatload of young talent.

    While it seems likely that they will become a dominant team in the Western Conference in the years to come, they are sure to have some struggles because of their youth.

    However, when it comes to talent, the Oilers don't have to take a backseat to many teams. That talent has come to the surface on the power play, because the Oilers have scored on 13-of-46 power play opportunities.

    Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky have each scored three power play goals through the team's first 10 games.

2. St. Louis Blues

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    The St. Louis Blues have the kind of roster that should be able to grind down opponents once the playoffs get underway at the conclusion of the 48-game regular season.

    Head coach Ken Hitchcock knows that having a potent power play is a big key to advancing in the postseason. While the Blue have lost all three games that they have played in February, they have scored 13 power play goals this season.

    Center Patrik Berglund has scored three power play goals, while rookie Vladimir Tarasenko has the speed and explosiveness to become a major man-advantage sniper.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning appear to have put the disappointment of last year's non-playoff season behind them.

    They are leading the Southeast Division in the early part of the season, having won six of their first 10 games through Dec. 7.

    The Lightning have been especially explosive on the power play, having scored 13 man-advantage goals in 44 opportunities. That's no surprise, considering that head coach Guy Boucher can throw out Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier on the power play.

    Stamkos has three goals and five assists with the man advantage, while St. Louis has seven power play points.

    The Lightning have been unstoppable with the man advantage at home, having scored 12 times in 27 chances.