Greg Higgins of Rantsports.com recently wrote an article about the lack of power play potency the Dallas Stars have been experiencing lately, you can read it here. He finished the article with this quote, “I don’t know why the power play has been non-existent for Dallas this season …”
Well I do. The power play problems are all due to a lack of motion, plain and simple.
Too often NHL teams that get on the man advantage make the basic mistake of setting up either the box or diamond formation, depending on personnel, then they proceed to pass the puck around while looking for their shot. With the players more or less stagnant in their assigned positions, they rely on skill to move the puck around or through the defensive penalty kill unit and get their shot. While that would seem like a decent way to generate success for the Stars with players like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Valeri Nichushkin, it behooves Dallas to remember that the opposition is full of skilled defenders as well and that it is usually easier to defend a power play than to score on one.
When looking at the power play units that lead the league in conversion percentage, one common trait is displayed by all, player movement. While puck movement is certainly important, player movement is equally if not more important. When the players are stationary and resort to moving the puck around, the defense can set up their box, keep their sticks in the passing lanes and usually block shots. When the power play starts to rotate players along with the puck, things get more complex for the defense. The play speeds up, an assignment gets missed and then there is a quality scoring chance. The Sedin brothers, for example, are masters of using the cycle to get a defender to lose his assignment then finding the open man.
The Stars need to utilize more player movement while on the man advantage. They can start with their traditional alignment, but somewhere during the man advantage, players must start to cycle around and through the offensive zone. This will lead to the penalty killers moving around more to keep the passing and shooting lanes closed. Enough movement and one of the defenders is bound to open up a lane and that is when the Stars get the quality chances they need to be successful.
The Stars have loads of talent on the ice, but are not set up to be a team that just fires the puck at the net and out muscles teams in front of the opposition goal. In order to properly utilize their talents, moving the players around with and without the puck could be the best way to create new lanes and chances for their power play.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.
Read more from Dustin here.