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  • Wild PP Woes More Than Personnel



    I've stated before that shots breakdown the four-man defensive box that most penalty killing units employ. Shots create rebounds and pull players out of position, usually leaving someone wide open.


    Many of the teams at the top of the list are in some way successful on the power play. Whether they draw more penalties, have a higher percentage of their total goals come on the power play, or own a high power play convergence. You can see where the Wild reside on this list for total shots per game: second to last.

    Minnesota is near the bottom of the league in power play opportunities.

    The league average is 3.27 power plays per game and the Wild are clearly below average. It could be because the Wild are a low shooting team and the teams that do shoot pucks in great numbers are able to draw more penalties because they are on the attack more often. However, we've seen the Wild end a game in which they've had three power plays with a total combined shot total of five. The San Jose Sharks, the highest shooting team in the league can get seven shots on goal in one 2-minute power play.

    Good teams are able to use the man-advantage to supplement their 5v5 scoring with a healthy ratio of PP Goals making up the rest of their total team goals. Often bad teams are only able to find scoring with the other team down a man and that will show with a higher majority of total goals being scored on the power play.


    Let's take a look at the PP units of the top five teams in the league.

    First let's look at Pittsburgh, the number one team in the league.


    As you can see, The Penguins defense are very active shooters on the power play. The higher shooting rates suggest that they are also finding ways to get their shots through the first shot blocker. The Wild tried to get the defensemen more involved in the offense last season, but the slow passing and the predictability that was the Wild PP, they were unable to effectively use the point as a source of offense.


    Washington has a really high shooting percentage from their prolific forwards. Whereas the Wild employ only two players with a 11 percent or higher Fenwick shooting percentage, that Capitals own five players with a +11 percent FSh%.


    The Boston Bruins employ a more distributed power play unit. they like to share the wealth. All FF per 20 for each player is over 20 unblocked shot attempts and 8 out of 11 players have a FPDO over 1.000. Minnesota does not have two units that are able to be that deadly...at least not yet.




    The other house of cards in the Western Conference was the Colorado Avalanche. they rode an unsustainable high PDO throughout the season. The high FPDO and FSh% show that trend as well. Colorado had a high Fenwick Against while on the PP this season as well.

    Lastly, the St. Louis Blues, a team that is able to beat most defensemen with size and strength around the crease. they like to crash the net hard and find rebounds to tap in.

    So What do the Wild Need to do?

    As we've seen from the top power plays in the league last year, the shooting needs to come from everyone. The defense absolutely needs to take part in the man-advantage. They also need to employ short, quick passes to get the puck to the open man. Finally, The Wild do have size, but they need to get in the higher percentage areas. They can't be predictable by passing puck around the perimeter. Any penalty kill will allow you to do that all day long.

    Here's what I suggest for the Wild power play units:

    Parise - Granlund - Niederreiter

    Scandella - Spurgeon

    PP Unit 2:

    Vanek - Koivu - Pominville

    Brodin - Folin

    The Wild need to improve on the power play in order to make another jump. As we saw both in the regular season and the playoffs that if the Wild could have made the most of their power play opportunities, it could very well have made a difference in series. The Wild's power play was nothing to fear, it was predictable, and also very conservative. However, I don't feel that the Wild's woes are not simply personnel - it's systematic.

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