Welcome back to Week Fourteen of the Detroit Power Play Update series. Each week, I’ll take a look back at the previous week’s power play performance. At the bottom, you will find links to the previous editions.
5v4 Stats Update
This article is accurate through the games of January 14th. The game against Anaheim on the 15th will be included in next week’s edition.
First, here’s a quick update on the team metrics that this series is focusing on:
Goals / 60: 22nd. Last week: 20th
Unblocked Shots / 60: 27th. Last week: 28th
High Danger Chances For / 60: 28th. Last week: 26th
% HDCF of Unblocked Shots: 26th. Last week: 24th
Not much of a change from last week, although as you’ll see in the video section, Detroit was doing a much better job than last week. If they keep that up, we can see some upward movement.
Here is a look at the PK stats of the teams we played last week.
Goals Against / 60: 12th
Unblocked Shots Against / 60: 17th
High Danger Chances Against / 60: 14th
% HDCA of Unblocked Shots: 16th
Goals Against / 60: 13th
Unblocked Shots Against / 60: 25th
High Danger Chances Against / 60: 21st
% HDCA of Unblocked Shots: 11th
Goals Against / 60: 5th
Unblocked Shots Against / 60: 21st
High Danger Chances Against / 60: 3rd
% HDCA of Unblocked Shots: 1st
Minnesota is a very good penalty killing team. They give up a good deal of shots, but they really limit the danger of those scoring chances. Montreal and Winnipeg are 12th and 13th respectively in 4v5 GA60, so not great, but not bad either. The Wings scored a goal against each of them, and they looked better overall on the power play in those two games than Detroit has in the recent past, especially last week.
Shot Locations (and other things)
In Week 6, we took a look at faceoffs at 5v4. I figured it has been long enough that we can take another look and see what, if anything, has changed.
First, here’s the chart from Week 6, then the updated chart is below that. Looking at the offensive dots, where the majority of power play faceoffs are taken, Detroit’s win percentage in the left circle has declined a little, while its win percentage in the right circle has increased a little. The team has also done a little worse in the center-ice dot, but not that much so.
Through Nov. 14th
Through January 14th:
For players taking more than 10 face-offs, we have:
Dylan Larkin - 88 taken, 61.36%
Frans Nielsen - 56 taken, 51.79%
Andreas Athanasiou - 15 taken, 46.67%
Michael Rasmussen - 11 taken, 27.27%
It’s important to keep in mind that Athanasiou and Rasmussen are typically, if not always, taking the faceoff after Larkin or Nielsen has been thrown out of the circle. If they are then thrown out, Detroit is given a minor penalty, so they have a distinct disadvantage (assuming the other team hasn’t also had their player thrown out once that draw.)
Let’s Go to the Videotape!
For this edition, I wanted to continue last week’s focus on movement because there were noticeable changes from the last batch of games. That’s not to say there were no causes for concern, as there were still some power plays in which Detroit didn’t get much going. Let’s take a look at some specific examples.
First, let’s take a look at a three clip sequence of the same power play. Kronwall makes a good breakout pass to Larkin. #71 doesn’t try to do it all himself like he sometimes does and passes over to Thomas Vanek, who enters the zone. At this point, we see something the coaches should be pointing out to the team.
Specifically, Vanek makes a no-look backhand pass that is nearly intercepted. Detroit is prone to making this type of pass. There are times that a no-look pass can be a great play, especially on the power play, but there’s no reason for it here. Vanek doesn’t gain any advantage, and he nearly turns the puck over.
Hronek’s hustle keeps the puck in the zone, and Nielsen gets it to Vanek near the goal.
They move the puck to Cholowski, who is playing the half-boards with Rasmussen still out of the lineup. To me, Cholowski is better at the point, but he does a good job in this role here. Nielsen hesitates for a second, then gets it to Hronek, who makes a quick cross-crease pass to Cholowski for the one-timer. The defenseman is in a good position at the top of the circle to get a good angle on the one-timer, but he misses wide. In the screenshot, I want to point out how Nielsen, Vanek, and Larkin are all in good positions for a rebound.
Even with the puck missing wide, Nielsen is able to not only keep it in the zone, but get another scoring chance out of it. They eventually reset, with Hronek moving the puck quickly again.
Cholowski puts a pass into the slot that has two possibilities. Larkin is the primary target, but if the puck gets by the players in the slot, Nielsen is in a good position to skate right into it. The result of this play is two good scoring chances. Vanek is stopped on a stuff attempt, then Nielsen gets the puck and moves it to Hronek, then to Cholowski for a one-timer that hits the post.
The puck movement here is good overall, and the players don’t just stand in one spot. Last week, there was a lot of standing around.
After this next two clips, we’ll have another 3 clip sequence that leads to the goal, but first here is something I noticed happen a couple times.
Athanasiou is too low for this one-timer to be a dangerous shot. Even if there is a rebound, it’ll most likely go out towards the boards than in front of the net. The set up is good, and Hronek makes another good, quick pass (notice a pattern?), but Athanasiou has to know not to slide down that low because it really decreases the quality of the one-timer.
While this next clip isn’t exactly what Ryan Stimson is talking about when he talks about more player movement (which I talked about last week), it’s a step in the right direction. At one point, both Mantha and Nielsen are below the goal line. Mantha heads back towards his “spot,” but he goes slowly in case Nielsen goes back to him behind the net. When Mantha gets to the slot, Vanek is in position for a quick passing play to get him the puck for a shot. Notice how even though Mantha has 3 defenders close to him, he finds space where he has room to get a shot off.
Next we have the three clip sequence that leads to Athanasiou’s goal. While he’s not the only person who makes good plays here, his movement is a vital part of this goal.
First, he carries into the zone and passes to Mantha before a defender can close him down. Then, he gives Mantha a passing option. Even though the puck eventually goes to Bertuzzi, Athanasiou was giving support. As the play develops, Athanasiou comes higher to give Hronek passing options.
This next clip is the sequence that mainly makes this goal happen. Athanasiou goes around the net to the other side. As he does, Detroit’s players move. Mantha slides back to play the point of the 1-3-1 as Hronek moves to the open space that Athanasiou left open. Before you watch the video, take a look at these two screenshots. The first is before Athanasiou goes behind the goal, the second is after.
Notice that the Montreal players have barely moved, and they now have to respond to a player where they weren’t expecting one to be. Even though Athanasiou takes the puck to the boards, the player movement opened up the possibility of a backdoor play to Hronek.
Nyquist takes the puck in the slot, and the combination of Detroit fighting hard for the puck and Montreal having an extra player to defend on the right side leads to Athanasiou being open for the one-timer.
Against Winnipeg, here we see a good example of quick, decisive puck movement leading to a scoring chance from the slot. Kronwall has a tendency to slow the play down, although in the three games I watched for this article, he moved the puck quicker than usual. If he continues to do that, he can contribute on the power play, even though he would be behind Green, Cholowski, and Hronek on my power play defenseman depth chart.
Before the last clip of the article, Cholowski’s power play goal against Winnipeg, here is a quick clip that illustrates again that Hronek is ready to be playing on an NHL power play.
This fake shot / pass is so good here from Kronwall that Cholowski has an entire second to settle the puck down and score. If you’ve been reading this series regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been critical of Kronwall on the power play in many instances. He, and the team in general, did a much better job of moving the puck quickly than last week.
After an overall pretty terrible performance two weeks ago, the last week saw signs of improvement. The team was playing much better than the previous week, especially in regards to moving the puck quickly and being in motion themselves. While I still don’t agree with the decision to continue having Kronwall on the power play with Mike Green’s return, if he moves the puck like he did last week, he can be an asset and not a liability. Hronek is ready, and with the team not close to playoff contention, I don’t see a reason, even a misguided one, to play Kronwall over Hronek at 5v4 now. Get the young player more NHL reps to help prepare for next year and beyond.
With the All-Star break fast approaching, we have one more edition next week before another one week break. If there’s some aspect that you are interested in reading about next week, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll see if it’s something I can focus on for next time.