10 Best Power Plays in the NHL Right Now
There is no better way to turn the tide of a game in the NHL than by cashing in on the power play.
Having more players on the ice than the other team can be a lifeline or the bane of a squad's existence depending on how well it can execute a power play (or defend against it, for that matter).
We're early into the 2022-23 season, and there are already some teams that have their man-advantage situations figured out. Meanwhile, others are still trying to determine how to gain the zone and get their fans to stop yelling, "SHOOT!" for at least two straight minutes.
Even though we're the biggest fans of how teams get things done at even strength, weaponizing the power play to make opponents regret any and all infractions is the kind of luxury good teams can use to make themselves great ones in the regular season and terrifying in the playoffs.
We're taking a look at some of the best power plays in the league—10 of them to be exact—and will get into what makes them click so well. We're going to rank them based on their success to this point and the personnel who make them so dangerous.
These kinds of rankings can be fluid. A team could be close to the best in the league one day and then be in the bottom half after a dry spell. Volatility like that helps make me look really silly in hindsight, so go easy on me, OK?
10. Arizona Coyotes
I can read it now: "You're absurd! How can you put these guys 10th?! You're an idiot!"
You might be right about some of those declarations, but the Arizona Coyotes, winners of three straight, have one of the top power plays going. They've scored 13 power-play goals, tied with three other teams for fourth-best in the league. More impressively, they've scored that many goals while not getting a lot of opportunities to capitalize.
Arizona has had 44 power-play opportunities, 12th fewest in the NHL, but has scored on nearly 30 percent of its chances. Even more impressive? The Coyotes' top scorer with the man advantage, Matias Maccelli, has six points and is tied for 29th in the league in power-play scoring.
The Coyotes have had seven different players score on the power play, and Nick Ritchie leads the way with four goals. And while Maccelli leads the team in power-play points, there are four players with five (Ritchie, Clayton Keller, J.J. Moser, and Shayne Gostisbehere). Some teams have a couple of big weapons to use on the power play, but the Coyotes are doing it with the conglomerated approach.
It's paying off because they've posted wins against teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning
Real recognizes real, and the Tampa Bay Lightning on the power play are always a threat to score.
Steven Stamkos is a dominant weapon, but it's the other players on that first unit who make this team so tough on penalty-killers, with Tampa Bay busting out Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Mikhail Sergachev to go along with Stamkos.
It doesn't get any easier with the second group, with Victor Hedman running the point and Corey Perry driving the goalie nuts around the net. Trying to stop them all can wear out most penalty-killers.
The Lightning's numbers may be down at the moment (22.2 percent), but they've still put 12 goals in on the power play. Stamkos leads the way with five of them. Even though it's referred to as Ovechkin's Office, the faceoff circle has been Stamkos' domain of dominance as well as he tees up one-timers to blaze past goalies.
Call it reputation, call it favoritism (although that makes no sense), call it whatever you want, but there was no way the Lightning weren't going to be in the top 10 for this list.
8. Minnesota Wild
It's been a fascinating season so far for the Stanley Cup-dreaming Minnesota Wild, and their power play is no exception.
The Wild have the NHL's sixth best power play, scoring 26.7 percent of the time (12 goals in 45 opportunities). And they're doing it with essentially one power-play unit doing all the scoring. Six Wild players have registered power-play points, and the one who's not on the top unit right now, Marcus Foligno, is injured.
Kirill Kaprizov has five goals, and Mats Zuccarello has four. Both have nine power-play points. Matt Boldy (five points) and Joel Eriksson Ek (four points) have been solid as well, and Calen Addison has been superb quarterbacking the power play with six assists. For what it's worth, Foligno has two assists.
The Wild do have a second power-play group, but they've been silent all season long. It's incredible that Minnesota has had as much success as it's had given its all-or-nothing approach, but it speaks volumes to how well Kaprizov and Zuccarello have performed and the work from the rest of the group to feed them pucks.
7. Vancouver Canucks
Bet this one caught you off guard too, right? Sure, a lot hasn't gone right for the Vancouver Canucks this season, but the power play is one thing that's been a sizable success.
Vancouver's power play has scored at 27.1 percent so far this season (13 goals in 48 chances) which puts them fifth in the NHL. The Canucks do have the eighth-best offense, and the fact that their power play clicks so well shows how good they are in that aspect of the game.
Much like the Wild, the Canucks' power-play offense comes almost exclusively from the first unit. Captain Bo Horvat has five power-play goals, Andrei Kuzmenko has four, and J.T. Miller has a pair. Horvat and Miller lead the way with seven points each, while Elias Pettersson (six assists) and Quinn Hughes (five assists) help set everyone else up.
The Canucks' problems involve just about anything that doesn't have to do with scoring goals, but they've been able to turn things around in part thanks to making teams pay for their punishable-by-officials offenses. Now if they could stop opponents from scoring on their league-worst penalty kill, they might have something cooking.
6. New York Rangers
The New York Rangers' power play is a treat to watch work thanks to the outstanding performance of Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.
Panarin is third in the NHL in power-play points with 12, and Zibanejad is tied for fourth with Mikko Rantanen with 10. Zibanejad has six power-play goals, which ties him with Leon Draisaitl for second behind Connor McDavid's seven.
New York has 13 goals in 52 power plays, good for 25 percent (a top-10 mark). Scoring on one out of every four power plays is a good way to help ensure success on a nightly basis. That it's a top-heavy attack, with Panarin and Zibanejad much further ahead of the rest of the group, works out fine because the other three players with power-play points (Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, Adam Fox) are on the same unit with them.
Sure, it might seem absurd to rank a team this high when it's exclusively getting goals from one group of five and nothing else from the second unit apart from occasional shots on goal. But Panarin and Zibanejad have made it a moot point by being so good.
As it is, the first unit is getting roughly four times the ice time as the second. Hey, if it's working, why mess with it, right?
5. Washington Capitals
You can't discuss the best power plays without having the Washington Capitals involved.
They have the ultimate weapon in Alexander Ovechkin. With his explosive shot from the faceoff circle, he has feasted upon every team in the league with the man advantage. What makes it more incredible is that teams not only know where he'll be on the ice at all times but also that he somehow still gets open enough to blast away.
This season, Washington has scored 13 times on 58 opportunities (22.4 percent). And—surprise, surprise—Ovechkin leads the team with five goals. Dylan Strome, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie each have two goals, and the Capitals have had 11 players put up at least one point on the power play.
Having so many capable players makes them dangerous regardless, but with a guy like Ovechkin there to pump shots on goalies, it makes it almost unfair for any four-man (or three-man) penalty kill. It's like trying to wrangle kittens.
That the Caps have continued to have success on the power play without Nicklas Backstrom or Tom Wilson, who are rehabbing from injury, tells you how good they are and remain to be.
4. Buffalo Sabres
What's better than having one player who can tee up a shot from the circle for one-timers on the power play? It's having two of them, as well as a defenseman who can fill it up himself. That's what makes the Buffalo Sabres so difficult to deal with.
They have scored the third-most goals on the man advantage with 14 and on the power play 26.4 percent of the time. They've gotten four goals each from Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin on their top unit.
If Dahlin is covered, finding Thompson in the circle for his booming shot has proved to be effective. Failing all of that, Casey Mittelstadt, who has two goals and five assists, can make opponents look foolish.
If the first unit doesn't score, Victor Olofsson has an incredible shot on the second unit. He has two goals, and he's been able to take advantage of teams perhaps rushing Owen Power too much at the top of the formation, thinking the rookie is going to go for goal. The Sabres have also spread the wealth around, with 11 different players registering points on the power play.
After a rough start to the season with the man advantage, Buffalo has scored a power-play goal in eight straight games. But while the power play is firing on all cylinders, the even-strength scoring has dipped. Balance like that is cruel.
3. Dallas Stars
What makes the Dallas Stars power play so potent is that they have not only superstar talent but also a breadth of others who can make teams pay for their transgressions.
They have the NHL's No. 4 power play, with 12 goals in 43 opportunities (27.9 percent). The goal total doesn't pop off the page, and the number of times they've gone on the man advantage is pretty average. But when you put them together, it just works.
Jason Robertson and Jamie Benn lead the charge as the Stars' top two scorers. Robertson has three goals, while Benn has two.
The Stars have had 10 different players register at least one point on the power play, and six of them have more than two. If Robertson, Benn and Roope Hintz don't beat you, the second unit featuring Tyler Seguin, Mason Marchment and Wyatt Johnston might do it instead.
It's no wonder the team has had so much success on the power play with that boatload of talent and is tied with the Winnipeg Jets for the most points (17) in the Central Division.
2. Edmonton Oilers
Even if the Edmonton Oilers have issues in other areas, they do not with the man advantage.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are the top two scorers in the league in those situations. Having two top-five players together on one power play is the definition of what it means to have the man advantage.
McDavid leads the NHL with seven goals, and Draisaitl is tied with Mika Zibanejad for second with six. Batman and Robin might be the dynamic duo, but having McDavid and Draisaitl together is like having Superman and Iron Man cross comic barriers and teaming up to wreak havoc.
The Oilers have had the fifth-most power-play chances with 54 and have scored a league-leading 18 times. That means one-third of every power play ends with a goalie feeling dejected. The ruthless efficiency is the biggest reason why they're near the top of the list.
1. Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche, as of this writing, have the highest power-play percentage in the NHL at 40.5. That number again: 40.5.
Colorado has only had 37 opportunities on the power play this season, third-fewest in the NHL, and it has scored on 15 of them for the second-most power-play goals. That astounding efficiency is more than likely not sustainable, but are you going to tell the defending Stanley Cup champions they can't keep that pace up? Fat chance.
There is a crack in the foundation of their dynamic five-man unit, however. Valeri Nichushkin—who's tied for fourth in the NHL with five power-play goals—will miss a month with an ankle injury. Fortunately for the Avs, they're ridiculously deep, and they have the fourth-leading scorer on the power play in Mikko Rantanen (two goals, eight assists). Cale Makar (zero goals, eight assists) is tied for 10th.
Evan Rodrigues is second in goals on the team with three, and Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen each have two. MacKinnon may be able to fill the void for Nichushkin when it comes to goals. Ultimately, all of those players are on Colorado's top power-play formation, so defending teams will have to pick their poison regarding whom to shadow the most on the penalty kill.