Welcome back to Week Twenty-Five 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 March 19, and “this week” includes all games from the beginning of the season through March 25. Detroit is highlighted in red.
It’s not surprising to see Detroit’s 5v4 TOI/GP take such a severe drop. The team played 4 games since the last update, and they had 5 total 5v4 opportunities. One was cut short by a goal, and one was cut short (rather quickly, too) by a Dylan Larkin penalty. Basically, the lack of 5v4 time continues for a team that has been near the bottom of the league all year in this regard.
Detroit’s 5v4 unblocked shots per 60 minutes increased compared to their number at the end of last week, but since the team is still 2nd to last in the league, it’s not saying much. Detroit had 13 unblocked shot attempts over the course of those 5 power play opportunities, which is not even 3 per power play. That’s way too low.
Anthony Mantha scored a power play goal (shortly after being largely responsible for a shorthanded goal). With the low amount of 5v4 ice time for the team, this one goal led to a very slight increase in the team’s GF60.
The Sharks and the Rangers are not very good at preventing goals at 4v5, so Detroit only having one 5v4 opportunity against each is a missed opportunity. I feel like I’ve typed that sentence a lot in this section...
Detroit took 13 unblocked shots in the previous four games. According to the Evolving Wild expected goals model, the majority of these had an expected goal value of over the league average of 8%. The chart shows that a good portion of the shots came from the area in front of the goal, which typically means the shot was a dangerous one.
Let’s Go to the Videotape!
The coaching staff continued their plan, which I believe to be ll-conceived, of having Niklas Kronwall on the top unit and Filip Hronek on the second unit. The top unit, specifically the trio of Hronek, Larkin, and Andreas Athanasiou, had done quite well since they were put together at gaining the zone consistently.
This first clip shows a poor breakout with Kronwall passing to Vanek on the side boards. Vanek then attempts to makes a cross-ice pass to Anthony Mantha. That pass goes off the boards near Mantha and Larkin and Athanasiou can’t get on the same page. This is a continuation of passes that would typically be accurate being “just off.”
In the second clip, Larkin and Athanasiou team up to lead what should be a successful attempt to gain the zone. Athanasiou and Larkin again get mixed up, and AA’s pass goes behind Larkin, but too far in front of Vanek for him to make a play on it.
Before he would score a very nice power play goal, Anthony Mantha would take the blunt of the criticism for a shorthanded goal. While he certainly made a bad play, the previous pass by Thomas Vanek can’t be ignored. As you can see in the screenshot below, this was a very poor passing decision by Vanek, and it definitely hurt Mantha’s ability to make a good pass.
That being said, Mantha should absolutely take a lot of blame for his pass that led to the breakaway.
On the goal that followed, Athanasiou makes a heck of a pass, and Mantha finds a good position to one-time a shot. The screenshot shows how Athanasiou had to find a lane where there wasn’t an obvious one.
The puck moving quickly from one side of the ice to the other allows Mantha to take the shot before Malcolm Subban has had time to get across. The second clip of the goal shows replay angles that highlight both Athanasiou’s pass and Mantha’s positioning.
Before we get to the last group of clips, in which Taro Hirose will be featured, there was a great sequence of puck movement from the first unit against San Jose. This series has shown several times how defenses have a very difficult time when the team on the power play puts two players below the goal line. Here is another example. In the screenshot below, watch how none of the Sharks players are able to see Athanasiou because they are looking at Larkin.
Here’s the full clip. Again focus on the sequence where the puck goes from Larkin to Mantha, back to Larkin, then to Athanasiou.
To close this out, here are three clips featuring Taro Hirose. These clips aren’t flashy, but they illustrate that he doesn’t look out of place on an NHL power play.
In the first one, he keeps the puck moving, then moves back to allow a passing angle to him. He then makes a smart play, feeding a hard pass to Tyler Bertuzzi in the slot, for #59 to deflect on goal.
This next play is certainly not flashy, but it shows great awareness. When he gets the puck, the penalty has expired. He first thinks about going back to the point, then quickly realizes that with the Rangers player exiting the box, that’s a really bad idea. He turns back into the zone and eats the puck. He doesn’t have a great passing option, so he does the smart thing and makes the play least likely to lead to a turnover, especially considering how dangerous it typically is when a penalty has just expired.
The last clip for this edition features quick, decisive puck movement from Hirose again. He doesn’t have a great shooting opportunity, so he instead makes a hard pass in the direction of Michael Rasmussen near the goal.
There wasn’t nearly as much game footage to look through as usual. Detroit’s dearth of PP time continues to be a stumbling block for the team. Taro Hirose has gotten off to a good start in general, and on the man advantage specifically.
With only six games left in the season, there will be one more weekly article, then a wrap-up of the season. Because that will take some time to put together, there’s a good chance that one may be later than the weekly schedule these article’s have employed.
I hope you found something interesting here, and I’ll see you back next week for one more!
Week Twelve - No Edition This Week
Week Seventeen - No Edition This Week