Watching some of the preseason games I couldn't help but notice how poor the powerplay was. I'm hoping that this is just a product of "it's preseason" but then again to some degree it's likely to carry over. I was curious if Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler, and to a lesser extent Tomas Kopecky really had that much of an impact on our powerplay numbers. So I headed over to NHL.com's stats page and took a look. Here's the top 5 powerplay scorers from last year:
- Henrik Zetterberg 12 G
- Pavel Datsyuk 11 G
- Johan Franzen 11 G
- Nick Lidstrom 10 G
- Marian Hossa 10 G
So the loss of one of the top 5 powerplay scorers isn't all that bad is it? But then I noticed that Samuelsson tallied 7 and Hudler 6 on the man advantage. Add in Kopecky's 1 G and that's a total of 24 goals, about 27% of the scoring on the powerplay. I guess it could still be worse right? Then I thought what about from the passing side of things? The four departed Wings totalled 50 assists (22 to Hudler alone) on the powerplay, about 28% of the assists.The numbers are nothing to scoff at and definitey raise the question to if the unit(s) will be the same this year.
Is there reason to worry? Probably not. I think coaching is just as important on the powerplay as the actual players themselves. Putting the guys in the right places is crucial with the man advantage and Babcock will adjust accordingly. The addition of Todd Bertuzzi will help because of his ability to screen the goalie like Tomas Holmstrom; not to mention Bertuzzi has a great shot for a bruiser. Jason Williams will likely join the unit because of his right-hand shot, one of the very few on the team. Lidstrom will quarterback the powerplay, as usual, along with Datsyuk--the two highest point producers on the powerplay a year ago.
I think the losses of Hudler's passing as well as Samuelsson and Hossa's shots will be missed at points but I also believe there is plenty of talent to fill the void. One guy that I think will have a breakout year on the powerplay is Valtteri Filppula because of his great passing game.
It'll take a while for the unit to get churning at full capacity but it also helps that the team plays disciplined hockey to stay out of the box and is able to draw numerous opportunities for the man advantage.