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Weekly Red Wings Power Play Update - Week 24

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In which our hero tries to find something nice to say

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Week Twenty-Four 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, March 19 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 March 11, and “this week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through March 18. Detroit is highlighted in red.

In the three games Detroit played since the last update, the team had eight 5v4 opportunities. Unfortunately, one of the reasons that their 5v4 TOI/60 creeped up is that for each one, the time was not cut short because they scored. Not once. Obviously having their TOI/60 increase is generally a good thing, but it’s important to keep in mind that the thing that really matters is scoring goals on the man advantage.

The second metric we examine each week is unblocked shots per 60 minutes at 5v4. Detroit came into this week 30th out of 31 teams, and stayed there. The even worse part is that the Wings’ FF/60 decreased.

The team moved in the right direction in the week featured in the previous edition of this series, but that positive movement was short-lived as Detroit regressed this past week. I imagine this result is not surprising, since the team didn’t score a 5v4 goal in these three games.

While the team’s 5v4 performance ranged from disappointing to upsetting, Detroit did play two of the better teams in preventing goals against at 4v5, including the league’s best (Tampa Bay). The Islanders are not much over the league average of 6.69, so none of the three penalty kills can be considered weak.

So, just looking at the information above, it’s clear that the Wings 5v4 units had a bad week. With Dylan Larkin out for two of those three games, that’s not really that surprising, but the thing that was concerning from the perspective of someone who has re-watched every Detroit 5v4 opportunity this season is that some of the mistakes seemed to be from lack of effort, and some seemed to be from lack of adjustment to the penalty killing schemes. We’ll get into that more in the video section.

Shot Locations

Detroit took 12 unblocked shots in the last three games at 5v4. That’s 1.5 shots per 5v4 opportunity. You don’t have to be a frequent reader of this series to know that’s unacceptable.

Data: evolving-hockey.com; Plot: @pflynnhockey

8/12 shots were above the 8% expected goal average at 5v4 that the Evolving Wild model predicts. Even so, Detroit’s dearth of unblocked shots shows what fans watching have likely noticed over the past week. Detroit’s power play has taken a step back from what was already not a very good one.

Let’s Go to the Videotape!

This edition is going to start with some plays that were exemplary of the type of issues the team had this past week. It’ll end with some positives, but overall, the negatives far outweighed the positives.

First, we see a breakout that isn’t perfect, but is good enough that Detroit should get some sustained zone time. That doesn’t happen because Justin Abdelkader doesn’t read the play and makes a pass that the defender coming to him is moving to cut off. Detroit has recently started making this pass frequently. It’s not that it’s a bad idea generally, but here the defender is already moving to intercept it before Abdelkader makes it.

In this next clip, while the Montreal player doesn’t read the pass as specifically as the player in the previous clip did, the pair of Montreal players are doing a good job of limiting Rasmussen’s passing options. While the pass gets to Hronek, the team needs to realize that they are relying on this pass too often.

Tampa Bay has a very aggressive style on the penalty kill, but they clearly anticipate the pass going back from Mantha to Bertuzzi.

The next time up the ice, Tampa Bay does intercept it. Again, it’s obvious they know this is coming.

Many of the turnovers on the power play came from players not competing hard enough for pucks. He was hardly alone this week, but in this instance Anthony Mantha should win this puck battle.

The last clip before we get to the three positive clips is something that is generally a good thing: Filip Zadina shooting the puck. The problem is that every time Zadina was out on the power play, it was obvious that the team was working to feed him. Zadina is a shooter, and should default to shooting over passing, but if he shoots every time he gets an opportunity, it becomes much easier to defend.

In the screenshot before the video, you can see how this isn’t a good shooting opportunity. The goalie is in position and set. While there is a defender between Zadina and the goalie, it’s unlikely that Zadina can shoot it through the defender and still have it beat the goalie to Zadina’s left. The shooting location is a good one, but the other factors combine to make this a shot that shouldn’t be taken. Zadina should pull the puck back and look to Hronek to shift the point of attack.

The next clip shows the quick puck movement that we have seen in weeks prior from the top unit. On the few occasions that Detroit got some sustained offensive zone pressure, they were able to set up some good scoring chances. Unfortunately, the team spent much more of their time chasing the puck after another clear by the penalty killers.

This season, Andreas Athanasiou has done a good job of passing more than in the past, when he would often try to do everything himself. Here’s a good example of him looking to pass.

This last clip shows a better opportunity for Zadina to shoot. He makes a poor decision to start the play off, but Detroit keeps the puck in. Kronwall passes to Nielsen, who immediately moves the puck to Zadina for a one-timer. Compare the screenshot to the previous one. In this instance, Vasilevskiy is still moving across while Zadina is letting the shot go.

So Far

This was one of the worst weeks for the power play all season. While there were some signs of life, far too much of the power play time was characterized by bad decisions and poor effort. I was disappointed not to see Zadina get more time on the first power play unit, as I think their typically quick puck movement would have led to him having some great scoring chances.

With the return of Dylan Larkin, it’ll be interesting to see if he can revitalize the power play. It would be nice, since this was not a very fun week to look back on.

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
Week Twenty-One
Week Twenty-Two
Week Twenty-Three