Detroit Red Wings: 5 Ways to Improve an Awful Road Power Play

Isaac SmithAnalyst IFebruary 14, 2013

Detroit Red Wings: 5 Ways to Improve an Awful Road Power Play

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    The Detroit Red Wings road power play is terrible, but just how bad is it?

    Try no goals on 23 chances.

    This puts Detroit as the only team in the NHL without a road power-play goal, and dead last percentage-wise in the NHL.

    Obviously the Red Wings' overall power-play rate (13.4 percent) won't get the job done, but it should be noted that the man advantage at Joe Louis Arena is sitting at 21.4 percent, putting them in the top half of the league at home.

    So what to do about the Red Wings' road woes on the man advantage?

    Here are five suggestions.

1. Sub in a Forward on the Point for Better Puck Movement

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    Kyle Quincey. Jakub Kindl.

    These are not the kind of names that inspire confidence.

    Yet Quincey is averaging almost a minute of power-play time a game and Kindl averages almost three minutes.

    These guys don't need to play on the man advantage. Quincey has zero points in 13 games this season, and Kindl has two points in eight games and no points on the power play.

    Neither Kindl nor Quincey have hard shots and neither of them are particularly good at getting shots on net.

    My ideal power-play point combinations would be Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall on the top unit and then Valtteri Filppula and Jonathan Ericsson on the second unit.

    The first combination has worked before, while the second unit sees Filppula more as a player who is defensively minded, but can still get the puck on net or towards the net when need be. Filppula works well in tight spaces and he has a moderately hard slap shot.

2. Move Damien Brunner to the Trigger Man; Either in the Slot or Half Boards

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    Damien Brunner is 5'11", and according to NHL.com, he weighs 184 pounds.

    Watch the video above and tell me who wins the strength battle at the point on this short-handed rush.

    Spoiler alert: Brunner loses the strength battle and essentially gives up a shorthanded goal.

    But with 43 shots on goal in just 13 games (while averaging almost five minutes per game on the power play), Brunner is too good to sit on the man advantage.

    So move him to either the slot or the half boards where he can one-time the puck.

    It seems old school (Brett Hull slap shot anybody?), but the one-timer from the half boards is something that Damien Brunner needs to perfect if he wants to be an elite forward and a superstar goal scorer in this league.

    Brunner loves shooting. How about putting him somewhere that he is open, but more importantly, in a position to score.

    The point is not where he belongs.

3. More Shots, Less Trying to "Get Open" on the Road Power Play

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    In 23 road power-play opportunities, the Red Wings put up 27 shots on goal.

    Think about it.

    Because the Red Wings didn't score on any of their 23 road power plays, that's a full 46 minutes of power play time where the Red Wings managed just 27 shots.

    All while playing a man up.

    It's called an "advantage" for a reason; it is supposed to be easier to get scoring chances.

    No one said anything about it being easier to score goals, but for crying out loud, averaging less than one shot per minute on the power play is unacceptable no matter the circumstances.

    Shoot. The. Puck.

4. Collapse the Box to Get Effective Scoring Chances from the Point/Slot

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    Skate the puck down the boards, collapse the box, put the puck out to the point and get shots.

    It may not be effective all the time, but for the sake of getting more shots than the 27 in 46 minutes of power-play time discussed on the last slide, it is important to get shots anyway possible.

    Not all shots will be saved, but if the shot doesn't make it to the net, it isn't going in.

    As soon as the penalty kill starts respecting the shot from the point, they will have to divert one or more players to cover the point shots and that's when the play should get diverted down low for an odd-man advantage in front of the net.

5. Imitate Tomas Holmstrom

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    There's never going to be another Tomas Holmstrom. While some fans might see Holmstrom's retirement as just a changing of the guard, it is more than that.

    Holmstrom had 10 power-play goals last season.

    No matter where scouts look, no matter how hard players try, no one will ever approach what Holmstrom spent his NHL career doing in front of the net.

    But forget Holmstrom's ability to tip pucks into the net for a minute. The Red Wings' players need to focus on imitating his ability to screen the goalie's view.

    If a goalie can't see the puck, the chance that it goes into the net increases exponentially.

    The Red Wings' man advantage lacks two fundamental components: shots on goal and shots that the goaltender cannot see.

    Once the Red Wings start screening goalies on power plays, pucks will start going in more consistently.

     

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