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Weekly Red Wings Power Play Update - Week 21

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NHL: Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Week Twenty-One 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 on Tuesday, February 26 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 February 18th, and “this week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through February 25th. Detroit is highlighted in red.

First up is 5v4 Time on Ice. Detroit barely moved, although the movement was downward. In 3 games played this past week, Detroit had 8 5v4 opportunities. One of these was cut far short by a Detroit penalty less than 20 seconds after the power play began.

Detroit’s unblocked shots per 60 performance also didn’t change very much, although the movement was positive.

While Detroit is still firmly in the lower half of the league for 5v4 conversion as measured by 5v4 GF60, they jumped two teams, and are close to moving past the Flyers.

Since the last article, the team played three games. Chicago is far and away the worst team in the league at 4v5, and they were one of the teams Detroit played. Minnesota is near the bottom of the league as well, while San Jose is pretty stingy at 4v5 defense, although not in the same tier as the three best teams in the league in that regard: Tampa, Arizona, and New Jersey.

While this series focuses on the power play, it’s not good, although not surprising, to see Detroit near the bottom in the league in penalty killing.

Shot Locations, Etc

First off, here is this week’s version of the visual I’ve been using for shot locations. The overlay indicates the density of 5v4 goal locations over the past three seasons prior to this one.

For this week, I wanted to add something different, so here’s a different version of the visual that includes the predicted goal (pred_goal) value from Evolving Wild’s xG model. You can think of it as the percentage chance a shot taken under those circumstances has of being a goal.

For example, the shot from directly in front of the goal had a 35% chance of being a goal according to their model. To put it in context, the mean predicted goal percentage of all 13,254 unblocked shots league-wide this season is 8.72%.

The following histogram shows the distribution for this season. The bars are broken up in 1.25% increments. While you can’t see any bars above 40%, there are shots higher than that, there’s just not enough to be visible.

Bars are broken up in 1.25% increments

I also plotted the distribution of 5v4 goals by EW’s pred_goal metric. The sheer number of lower percentage shots makes it unsurprising that a lot of goals are scored from those types of shots.

While their model is not able to account for things like goalie screens, etc, it does account for things like shots off of rebounds, so it’s a better way to look at the danger of a shot than just looking at the shot location.

For full context, here are the factors they account for at “uneven strength”. The higher the bar, the more they account for it.

If you want to read the full-write up, you can find that here.

For the video section, we’ll look at some shots to see what the team is doing to set up better chances, and what they can improve on.

Let’s Go to the Videotape!

Well, let’s get right to it.

The first clip shows what might be the best Red Wings power play passing play this entire season. Hronek to Athanasiou to Vanek to Larkin to Mantha. Cam Ward gets a toe on it, then the puck hits two posts. This shot from Mantha had an 11% predicted goal value, which shows some of the limitations of the model. The model uses the NHL play-by-play data, which doesn’t include passes.

This is one area that new tracking data could be very useful, although it remains an open question how much of that will be publicly available.

Here’s the replay, which provides different angles on this great passing setup.

The next clip shows the highest percentage shot of the week on the power play. The fact that it’s a rebound increases the predicted goal percentage, combined with the location of the shot.

The first shot was re-directed by Rasmussen in front of Ward, but the shot distance is counted from where Green was, so it’s considered 31 feet out as opposed to about 8. This is a limitation of the NHL play-by-play data. The second shot from Rasmussen was given a 34% chance of becoming a goal. It’s important to remember that while that sounds low, it’s over three standard deviations above the mean for PP shots this season.

The next clip shows a shot that the model regards as fairly low percentage, assigning a value of 5.8% to it.

I included this for two reasons. First off, the percentage should be at least a little higher because of the setup pass being cross-crease. Additionally, two Blackhawks players are in between Mantha and the goalie, although the second player isn’t screening the goalie as much as it seems at first glance.

The second reason is that while power plays league-wide still set up the one-time slap shot from the point, they aren’t that dangerous on average. Basically, teams take this type of shot at a higher rate than they should, considering how many of them become goals.

Up next is the Athanasiou goal, which was a beauty. While the goal was a great individual effort, the initial attempt was a slap-pass from Mantha to Vanek, who wasn’t able to re-direct it on goal. Athanasiou reacts quickly to the miss and scores a highlight reel goal.

The alternate angles on the replay really show the skill from Athanasiou to find a way to put this puck past Ward.

This next clip shows Thomas Vanek finding the seam to set up Andreas Anathasiou for a great chance. Dubnyk makes a ridiculous save on the shot.

The first power play unit of Hronek - Larkin - Athanasiou - Vanek - Mantha was noticeably better than the team has been of late on the power play. When Vanek returns from injury, this unit should be given more time together.

Even though Detroit didn’t score more at 5v4 this past week, they were really moving the puck well, especially the first unit. Here’s another example of that.

Lastly, here are two looks at Anthony Mantha’s goal. Minnesota plays fairly passively in-zone on the PK. The first shot hits Brodin, and the second deflects off him as well in front of Dubnyk. You can see this more clearly in the second clip of this goal.

So Far

The new top unit is moving the puck extremely well and setting up good chances. Hronek should be quarterbacking that unit for the rest of the season, barring injuries. He’s much better on the power play than Kronwall at this point in the latter’s career.

I’m looking forward to seeing Zadina get more power play opportunities this coming week. The team only had 2 chances against San Jose, and the first one was negated by a penalty before Zadina could get out there.

Come back next week for another edition. As always, let me know in the comments if there is something you want me to specifically look at.

Previous Editions

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six
Week Seven
Week Eight
Week Nine
Week Ten
Week Eleven
Week Twelve - No Edition This Week
Week Thirteen
Week Fourteen
Week Fifteen
Week Sixteen
Week Seventeen - No Edition This Week
Week Eighteen
Week Nineteen
Week Twenty