Welcome back to Week Twenty 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
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 February 11th, and “this week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through February 18th. Detroit is highlighted in red.
First up is 5v4 Time on Ice. After moving in the right direction last week, Detroit takes a step back, leaving them with the second lowest 5v4 TOI/GP in the league.
Detroit also took another step back in unblocked shots per 60. Remember that this is a rate stat, so TOI/GP does not directly affect it.
After rising the prior week in 5v4 Goals For per 60, the Red Wings took a small step back last week. Only scoring one goal at 5v4 in four games will do that. Andreas Athanasiou scored on a penalty shot, but that doesn’t get counted as a 5v4 goal because...it’s not.
Since the last article, the team played four games. None of the three teams Detroit played are particularly good at preventing goals against at 4v5, but Philly is the worst of the three. Detroit only had three total 5v4 opportunities against the Flyers in two games, which seems like another missed chance to improve.
This week, there weren’t many shots, as you saw from the chart above. While there were still some positive aspects to Detroit’s power play this past week, there were many plays that led to the penalty killers taking time off the clock.
While Detroit certainly needs to increase the number of shots they take, at least many of the shots were coming from dangerous areas.
Let’s Go to the Videotape!
Since Detroit is near the bottom of the league in 5v4 production, today’s article is going to focus more heavily on things that are hurting the power play. Typically, the video clips are more skewed to the positive side, but the opposite will be true for this edition. There are still some positive things to illustrate, which you’ll see at the end of the article.
Close, but no Cigar
The first category consists of plays that are not bad ideas, but are just a little off in terms of execution.
In the first clip, Dylan Larkin has a good idea for a long pass that would allow Frans Nielsen to enter the zone with possession. Looking at Nielsen’s body language just before the pass is made shows that he wasn’t anticipating the pass, or he expected it not to be as far in front of him as it ended up being. Additionally, the pass hopped over his stick, so even so it almost worked.
In the next clip, while Nyquist is not as good as Athanasiou or Larkin at receiving the drop pass on a breakout, he does a nice job to beat the first man at the blue line. The problem is that he needs to then dish the puck off to another player. The defense is going to attack the puck carrier there, and that pass needs to happen earlier. Instead, he loses the handle, which leads to a clear.
This has been discussed in past editions, but sometimes Detroit telegraphs passes, especially on the drop pass breakout.
In this clip, Mike Green seems to want to make sure that everyone in the building knows that he’s about to pass backwards. Nyquist also makes a bad read and tries to carry in.
In the screenshot, you can see that two Predators come to Nyquist at the blue line, while Justin Adbelkader was wide open at the bottom of the screen. Nyquist also had a pass to Nielsen (top of your screen) available shortly before. Either one would have been a better choice here.
It’s not just defensemen. Thomas Vanek has been guilty of telegraphing his passes in the past, leading to turnovers. In this clip, the culprit is Dylan Larkin. I can hear Sara (Helmerroids) from her house screaming at me “Dylan Larkin would never!” But, he did. This pass was very close to leading to a dangerous turnover.
I couldn’t think of a clever name for this section, so just think of these as plays that make fans make that sound.
The first example in this category is Thomas “Boom or Bust” Vanek. I’ve highlighted his creativity and incredible hands many times in this series, but sometimes he shows the same effort that he typically shows at 5v5, which is little to none.
If you keep an eye on Vanek on the power play, you will notice that he is typically hustling, and often wins puck battles. Then he goes and does something like this...
He has to get to that puck. It’s inexcusable.
These next two plays from Mike Green are enough to make the rest of Jeff Blashill’s hair fall out.
In the first play, he makes a pass to nobody, leading to a turnover right behind his own net. Because of the camera angles, it’s tough to tell exactly what happened, but it creates a dangerous situation for Detroit.
The second play is one that he seems to make once a week. There’s no excuse for this pass, and Green is very lucky it’s not intercepted.
We’ll leave Mike Green alone for now and show a poor decision by a player who has done much better this season at not making poor decisions: Andreas Athanasiou. Larkin tries to make a tough play to Thomas Vanek. When the pass is broken up, Athanasiou doesn’t turn back, but instead continues forward. He has to read that Larkin and Vanek are both behind the goal line (and Vanek isn’t catching anyone) and hustle back on defense sooner.
Athanasiou hasn’t made plays like this too often, but it could have easily led to a 3 on 2 the other way. Make sure to notice the great defensive play by Anthony Mantha to get the puck back.
The last clip in this section is more of a team effort in making a poor read.
Kronwall passes to Vanek and continues on into the zone. There’s nothing inherently wrong with his decision, but nobody covers for him.
Athanasiou doesn’t have many good options when he receives the puck near the blue line, but the big problem is that when he cuts back and loses the puck on a good stick check, there’s nobody behind him.
Backing up a second, we can see that Athanasiou’s best option was to pass to Mantha, who is out of frame to Athanasiou’s right. Larkin is in a good position to receive a pass, but there’s no way that AA can make the pass. If he puts the puck on his backhand, the defender can quickly close that gap. The safe option would be to dump it in, so it rims around to Kronwall.
To be fair, this is happening very quickly, so I don’t think it’s fair to lay all the blame at Athanasiou’s feet. The most important takeaway here is that the unit as a whole didn’t react accordingly to Kronwall pushing deep into the zone.
It’s Not All Bad
Now for some good plays. Even though the team didn’t score on this next clip, there’s a lot of good things happening here. Larkin gets knocked down, which went uncalled. While I’m sure the team wanted a penalty, they don’t get distracted. Athanasiou uses Larkin as a screen to gain separation from two Senators and drives towards the net.
We’ve seen how dangerous Vanek is from behind the net. Vanek takes the pass from Athanasiou and makes a ridiculous saucer pass that has to clear the bottom part of the back of the net. This is nearly an exact replay of a play that led to a goal a little while back, but this time Larkin has to corral the puck, which allows Nilsson to recover.
Kronwall also does a great job of keeping the puck in the blue line.
Since we’ve seen bad passes and bad breakouts in this edition, here’s a good breakout. While I do like having Athanasiou and Larkin on different units for breakouts, they have been doing well together, as seen in this clip.
Kronwall’s first pass is good, then he runs interference at the blue line, helping Athanasiou to gain the zone. Once that happens, a few quick passes allows the unit to get set up with possession.
Lastly, we have the goals. Even though it didn’t count as a PP goal, penalty shots are always fun. Here’s three looks at AA’s goal. Nilsson likely thinks a deke is coming, and Athanasiou slots it through the five hole.
We close out with Larkin’s goal. From the first angle, we see Vanek’s nice bank pass back to Mantha. Mantha moves it to Kronwall, who holds long enough for space to open up in front of Mantha. Vanek tips the pass from Mantha on net, nearly scores on the rebound, then Larkin cleans up.
The second angle highlights Mantha’s pass and Vanek’s work in front of the net.
Detroit continues to not have many power play opportunities, and they remain near the bottom of the league at unblocked shots and goals per 60 minutes at 5v4.
Bertuzzi re-entering the lineup will be helpful, as having him on a unit instead of Abdelkader is a major step up, especially with how well Bertuzzi has played since returning from injury.
In the next week, Detroit plays Chicago, Minnesota, and San Jose. Chicago is easily the worst team in the league at preventing 4v5 goals, so that should be an opportunity for Detroit to pad their numbers. Of course, they need to draw penalties in order to do that.
Week Twelve - No Edition This Week
Week Seventeen - No Edition This Week