Welcome back to Week Nineteen 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. The game played against Nashville on February 12th will be included in next week’s edition.
5v4 Stats Update
The following three charts show the change for each team in the past week, for three metrics: TOI/GP, GF60, FF60. The teams are arranged from the current highest to lowest numbers. The arrow indicates if they have improved or declined over the last week. To be clear “last week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through January 4th, and “this week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through February 11th.
First up is 5v4 Time on Ice. For the second straight week, Detroit is trending in the right direction, although their low rank in this metric all season means that they’ll have to draw a lot of penalties to get closer to league average. In the race for the most 5v4 time per game, Calgary is making a move to overtake Colorado.
Detroit is also making a slow move away from the league basement in unblocked shots per 60. Not a big climb, but obviously better than going the other way.
Detroit scored 2 goals at 5v4 over the past week, which helped them to move in the right direction in goals for per 60. Just like above, they didn’t move that much, so it’s not something to get too excited over.
Since the last article, the team played three games. The first game was against Vegas, who is 4th in the league in GA60 at 4v5 (with 1st being the best in the league at preventing goals against when at 4v5). Buffalo is around the middle of the pack, and Chicago is dead last. Detroit had four 5v4 chances against each of the first two teams, but only two against Chicago.
Shot Locations, Etc
It’s been a little while since we looked at shot locations in this section. Watching the video of the 10 5v4 opportunities the team had this past week, it looked like they were getting the majority of their chances from good scoring locations, even though they only scored on 2 out of 20 shot attempts (including shot attempts that missed the goal).
Looking at the shot location chart shows that was the case. The overlay is a heat map from Prashanth showing location of goals at 5v4 from the past three seasons.
One player in particular who was getting great chances but not scoring on them was Andreas Athanasiou. It made me wonder how Detroit players are scoring compared to the quality of their scoring chances. This chart shows the difference between 5v4 actual goals for per 60 and expected goals for per 60 through February 11th.
Keep in mind that this is showing the GF and xGF for the entire team when each player is on the ice.
Rasmussen being so high is interesting because of how much time he spends near the net. You might expect that he would cause the expected goals to be higher because a lot of his chances are in close.
Mike Green has the greatest negative difference, meaning that when he is on the ice, the team scores less often than the quality of their chances indicates they should.
I realized that I set up the previous question as wanting to see if a particular player, in this case Andreas Athanasiou was scoring at a lower rate than the quality of his chances would indicate, then the chart showed something a little different.
So, here’s the same chart, but for individual GF60 vs individual xGoals per 60. I apologize for the confusion.
Looking at it individually, Larkin jumps to the top of the chart, while Rasmussen is still near the top. Interestingly, while the team’s chances are high when Anthony Mantha is on the ice, individually, he’s underperforming his expected goals by quite a bit. The second result is less surprising than the first, in my opinion. He’s missed a lot of great scoring chances on the power play.
Let’s Go to the Videotape!
The Vegas Golden Knights are among the best penalty killing teams in the league, and their high pressure is one of the main reasons why.
In the first clip, we see just how intensely Vegas presses on the penalty kill. Detroit does a good job here of supporting Green, allowing the Red Wings to not only keep possession, but to also gain the offensive zone.
While Detroit did a good job overall of adapting to Vegas’ high pressure, Niklas Kronwall makes a very poor decision in this next clip. He passes the forechecker, then turns and makes a semi-blind pass back to a location where that forechecker could easily be. The drop pass breakout doesn’t work as well against an aggressive forecheck in the first place, but this is a pass that would get a non-veteran benched, and for good reason.
Most of this section will be dedicated to a topic I raised last edition, but before getting to that, here’s a quick look at something I’ve been saying that Detroit should be doing more often. Against Chicago, Detroit set up with two forwards below the opposing goal line. While it doesn’t lead to a goal, it again leads to a dangerous scoring chance, like it has in the past. The disappointing thing here is that after this chance, we didn’t see the setup again.
In last week’s edition, I pointed out something I’ve been noticing for a while. Thomas Vanek, and more lately, Anthony Mantha have been looking to make passes that have a higher rate of being intercepted, but a higher chance of leading to a dangerous scoring chance. Here’s a look at how these passes can lead to a clear.
This specific pass doesn’t get through, but if it did, Larkin has a fantastic opportunity. Here’s another example. The safe pass for Dylan Larkin here is back to Kronwall at the point. But, the pass he chooses was a few inches off from being on Mantha’s stick for a cross-crease one-timer.
Vanek is easily the player on Detroit who tries these passes the most often. It can lead to focusing on the fact that Vanek is turning the puck over often, but he is also setting up dangerous chances more often than other players. Here’s an example where his pass to the slot is deflected, but it still leads to a good scoring chance.
As mentioned above, Anthony Mantha has been starting to look for these passes more often. He nearly connects with Athanasiou here for a highlight reel goal.
Athanasiou must have been talking to himself on the bench a lot this game because later he also nearly scored on a beautiful setup by Vanek. Watch how Vanek’s movement opens up the Vegas defense to allow Athanasiou to get open for the one-timer.
Lastly, here are the two goals Detroit scored on the power play this past week. While he wouldn’t score until shortly after this next clip, Rasmussen has continued the good net play he was exhibiting before he was injured.
On his goal, Rasmussen uses his long reach to receive the puck away from the defender. He then used his quick hands to pull the puck into the crease and lift it over Fleury’s pads in one motion. The rookie has been showing that he could be a cornerstone of the Detroit power play for years to come.
Lastly, Dylan Larkin scores a fantastic goal. While Larkin’s play is the highlight here, the goal was a result of the tandem of Athanasiou and Larkin as trailers on the breakout as well as a great pass by Vanek. Having both Athanasiou and Larkin as trailers on the same unit makes it hard for the defense to read. Either of them could burn a defender or two by themselves. Add to that the potential to pass to the other instead of carrying the puck, and it’s been a good pairing.
The replay highlights Vanek’s role. Without the timing and placement of the return pass, this play falls apart before Larkin gets near the net.
Even though Detroit only scored 2 power play goals in 10 5v4 opportunities over the past three games, they came inches away from scoring a few more. Rasmussen has picked up where he left off, and having him on the power play is a huge step up from Abdelkader.
Come back next week for another installment in this series! As always, if there’s something you want me to take a look at, put it in the comments, and I will do my best to do so.
Week Twelve - No Edition This Week
Week Seventeen - No Edition This Week