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The Power Play - How to Fix It?

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Though the PP did score once tonight, once again overall it did not look good.

So how to fix it, short of bringing Bob Woods back?

I like having Eichel on the LW half wall.  The threat of a 1 timer from there forces the other team to cheat towards him and should open up other options.

Due to his having either the hardest or 2nd hardest shot and the RH shot, I am OK with keeping Ristolainen at the top of the umbrella.  There are issues with him being back there, primarily he likes to wait a long time to start bringing the rush back up ice after the zone has been cleared.  He also tends to be slow on moving the puck to a teammate, but not so slow that the PP can't work with him there.  (It's been successful in the past with him in that role and the accuracy of his passes make up for the delay in sending the pass IMHO.)

The areas that need improvement IMHO are the 1 timer and board battle from the RW half wall, the set up and battle from the high slot, and getting the screen set up in front of the net.

To solve the issue of not having a strong shot from the RW half wall, I'd consider sliding Skinner over to there from his current spot at the high slot.  His passing leaves a bit to be desired, but he can easily make the pass back to Risto or to the high slot when he doesn't take the 1 timer.

This leaves an opening at the high slot on the 1st unit.  There are 3 options I'd like to consider to fill that: Reinhart, Mittelstadt, or Dahlin.  Reinhart would be my 1st choice to try to fill that role.  He thinks quickly, is an accurate passer, and has a decent enough shot to score from that area if he isn't dishing the puck elsewhere.  If he can't get that position filled adequately, I would like to see Mittelstadt tried there.  He likes to be in the tight areas/ coverage that he'd get there and has good vision and hands.  He could very well play the role that O'Reilly played the last 2 seasons so successfully.  If neither of those work, I'd like to see how Dahlin would work there; though he would definitely be the 3rd choice.  After that, we'd be looking at having either Sheary or Rodrigues at that spot.

For the low slot, then I'd probably give Thompson the 1st crack at that role if Sam is working out in the high slot.  If Sam doesn't work in the high slot, he moves back to low slot.

So, the 1st group I'd try is Jack, Risto, Skinner, Sam, and Tage and would rather quickly try swapping Tage and Mitts.

I'd expect that would get the right personnel out there for that 1st unit.  Once we get those out there, I'd be looking at having them moving more.  They tend to stay very static, which allows the defenders to maintain their box.  Get more motion of players and more puck movement.  Having 3 strong shots spread throughout the zone should also help with forcing the D to adjust their box.

For the 2nd unit, I like the idea of having Pilut in Risto's role on the 1st unit.  I'd have Okposo on the right half wall.  If Tage isn't on that 1st unit, I'd have him in front of the net with Sheary in the high slot.  If Tage is on the 1st unit, I'd have Mitts in the high slot.  I'd probably see if Sheary could handle the low slot in that case, though his small stature might not let him get enough of a screen nor the strength to win battles for rebounds.  The 5th member of that unit setting up on the left half wall would be Pominville (yeah, I would let Pomms try that role) or Rodrigues.  

Dahlin would be my 2nd choice for either Pilut's or Okie's role.  I'd give Girgensons the next chance to try net front presence.  But 1 other benefit of not running Dahlin on either PP unit is you can follow the PP up with Bogosian and Dahlin along with either the Larsson line or a modified Larsson line with Sobotka filling in for a winger that had just played making sure we don't get caught with Scandella and Pilut (or even worse, Dahlin and Pilut) right after the PP when the other team is getting their big guns onto the ice.

There is no reason with the bodies this team has that they can't get at least into the low 20's for success percentage.  And they really should be more of a top 8 minimum if not top 5.  And considering how many 1 goal games they play, it is almost criminal that they can't get the PP working.

Any other thoughts?  Maybe run that 2nd unit with 2 D (the younger Rasmus working with Larry) in a more traditional 3 F, 2 D configuration looking to create more traffic down low to give the PKers a different look?

The PK is very good, really don't understand how they can't get both units functioning at a high level at the same time.

 

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I think the issue is as simple as, the power play is slow.  They tend to be deliberate on the PP.  I don’t see the speed of puck movement on our PP that I see with good PP teams.  Our entries are deliberate and the side to side passes are deliberate.  I think the success of the powerplay goes through the roof if they played with more puck speed.

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11 minutes ago, Weave said:

I think the issue is as simple as, the power play is slow.  They tend to be deliberate on the PP.  I don’t see the speed of puck movement on our PP that I see with good PP teams.  Our entries are deliberate and the side to side passes are deliberate.  I think the success of the powerplay goes through the roof if they played with more puck speed.

Better puck movement would definitely help.  But having a better passer in the high slot would help tremendously with that.  The PP came on last season when O'Reilly took that role back and Okposo slid back to the right boards.

Skinner is not as skilled a passer as they need in that role, IMHO.

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I think if Eichel isn't going to actually shoot from the half wall then he shouldn't be there. He needs to shoot. That's the biggest problem right now. He's too patient. He gets the puck, decides he doesn't have a lane, and then ends up passing it back to his point man. 

If Eichel is so worried about having a lane then they need to move more to shake the coverage up on him to give him the open space he thinks he needs. 

Eichel drives that power play in theory, but not in practice. 

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Think about it like this. If Jack is the one they want shooting on the power play then he's the guy who should be handling the puck the least. The most important guys are the RW and RD. The power play should flow through them to Jack. 

But it's not working like that. Instead Jack and the LD (Dahlin) are doing most of the work, which basically forces the play through Reinhart/Skinner. 

But those guys aren't shooting because they think the PP is about Jack. 

It looks like no one has any idea who the focus of the PP is. Which is the difference between our usage of Jack on the LW versus Ovechkin. Ovechkin just does little circles and tries to lose coverage while his teammates work to set him up. Washington knows who the PP is trying to set up.

Buffalo doesn't seem too sure. 

Edited by darksabre
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12 minutes ago, darksabre said:

I think if Eichel isn't going to actually shoot from the half wall then he shouldn't be there. He needs to shoot. That's the biggest problem right now. He's too patient. He gets the puck, decides he doesn't have a lane, and then ends up passing it back to his point man. 

If Eichel is so worried about having a lane then they need to move more to shake the coverage up on him to give him the open space he thinks he needs. 

Eichel drives that power play in theory, but not in practice. 

Good point.  But how does that get fixed?  Seems to me that a (large?) part of the reason Eichel doesn't go for the 1 timer as much as in the past is that by the time the puck gets to him he doesn't have that clear lane & he's smart enough to realize that it's better to look for a pass or better lane than to simply bounce the puck off a defender.

Which is a large part of the reason I'd like to see Reinhart or Mittelstadt in the high slot.  Both are smart and have good passing skills.  Getting a puck in the slot forces defenders onto that player and opens up the lane Eichel has (AND the lane that Skinner or whoever else is on the far boards has) which should open up that one timer.  And that was IMHO a large part of the past success of the PP 2 years ago and late last year.  If they try to take Eichel away when the puck is in the high slot (especially with a friendly body in front of the goalie) then we're opening up to getting that high slot shooter a LOT of goals.  And while I believe Reinhart is ideal for that role, I expect Mittelstadt can fill it well also and the added benefit of having Mitts there is that HE has Reinhart in front of the goalie.  Reinhart is VERY good in that role when he wants to be.

 

7 minutes ago, darksabre said:

Think about it like this. If Jack is the one they want shooting on the power play then he's the guy who should be handling the puck the least. The most important guys are the RW and RD. The power play should flow through them to Jack. 

But it's not working like that. Instead Jack and the LD (Dahlin) are doing most of the work, which basically forces the play through Reinhart/Skinner. 

But those guys aren't shooting because they think the PP is about Jack. 

It looks like no one has any idea who the focus of the PP is. Which is the difference between our usage of Jack on the LW versus Ovechkin. Ovechkin just does little circles and tries to lose coverage while his teammates work to set him up. Washington knows who the PP is trying to set up.

Buffalo doesn't seem to sure. 

And that is where letting Woods go is nearly criminal.  HE devised the PP that worked like clockwork and when they went back to his theories it worked again last year.  They need to get back to that again.

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It's clearly a coaching failure. That much seems to be obvious. They have the talent. They should be able to execute a plan if they know what that plan is and they practice it. 

But they don't look like they know what the plan is. 

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Simple, shoot the puck where the goalie ain’t 

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I think they should do a commercial time out and open a voting pole during the 60 second time slot by 716 area code fans to pick PP1 and PP2 for that power play and make Phil adhere to it.

Can't do any worse than him and his staff anyways. PGE can market package it as a real-time fan inter-action, wave of the future 🙂

Edited by Scottysabres

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30 minutes ago, Beer said:

Simple, shoot the puck where the goalie ain’t 

Kind of what I was thinking....but as a slight variation....simply shoot the puck (vs. overpassing). 

Second, effort....or in the Sabres case not enough....other team's PK are outworking them

Last, no Okposo please.

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8 hours ago, Weave said:

I think the issue is as simple as, the power play is slow.  They tend to be deliberate on the PP.  I don’t see the speed of puck movement on our PP that I see with good PP teams.  Our entries are deliberate and the side to side passes are deliberate.  I think the success of the powerplay goes through the roof if they played with more puck speed.

Agree totally. A big body in front of the net might help as well, but if our identity is supposed to be speed and such we should bring that to the Pp as well. 

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The puck movement and decision making seems to be much better on the second unit. 

Also Ryan Stimson did a piece for the Athletic where he advocated for a player on the PP to be under the goal line and ideally behind the net to have the puck and run it from there. The idea being that defenders are less likely to engage an attacker back there and that goalies are more likely to lose sight of what the other four skaters are doing as his attention is focused behind the net. 

The Swiss ran something similar during the WJCs with good success. 

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1 minute ago, Brawndo said:

The puck movement and decision making seems to be much better on the second unit. 

Also Ryan Stimson did a piece for the Athletic where he advocated for a player on the PP to be under the goal line and ideally behind the net to have the puck and run it from there. The idea being that defenders are less likely to engage an attacker back there and that goalies are more likely to lose sight of what the other four skaters are doing as his attention is focused behind the net. 

The Swiss ran something similar during the WJCs with good success. 

The second PP unit started one of the PP opportunities tonight and I thought that was a good call. PP2 doesn't waste much time getting shots on net. 

PP1 still doesn't know what to do with the puck when they have it. It's very weird. 

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38 minutes ago, darksabre said:

The second PP unit started one of the PP opportunities tonight and I thought that was a good call. PP2 doesn't waste much time getting shots on net. 

PP1 still doesn't know what to do with the puck when they have it. It's very weird. 

I believe a majority of the players on PP1 where on the ice for an extended shift when the penalty was called, agree it was a good move. 

It appears that every player  on PP1 is waiting for another guy to make a play and nothing good comes out of it. 

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The failings of PP1 begin, exist in the middle, then end with Risto.  He can't think the game fast enough to keep the puck moving in general, much less into a dangerous area.  This is me, an internet JAG screaming about it, but watch what he does literally every time: hang onto the puck too long.  If he doesn't cough it up. 

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9 hours ago, darksabre said:

I think if Eichel isn't going to actually shoot from the half wall then he shouldn't be there. He needs to shoot. That's the biggest problem right now. He's too patient. He gets the puck, decides he doesn't have a lane, and then ends up passing it back to his point man. 

If Eichel is so worried about having a lane then they need to move more to shake the coverage up on him to give him the open space he thinks he needs. 

Eichel drives that power play in theory, but not in practice. 

Agreed. When Ovi scores on the PP one timer it’s not always from a perfect angle. All Jack has to do is put it on net. Chances are there will be a rebound. This requires a slot presence and a screen, Sam and Skinner.

Once that pass is made a dman needs to move to the right circle. This part is a gamble because if Jack misses that puck is going around the boards so again he has to hit the net.

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The problem the PP has is their complete lack of motion. They make it way to easy to protect against since we rarely have any movement besides the puck holder. When Eichel has on the half wall, it seems as if most of the team stops moving thus leaving Eichel very few options. There should be at least two, maybe three guys moving around at all times among the four non-puck holding players. Either the man down low or up high should stay in a steady spot as a safety valve but the other three should be skating around looking to find openings. Hell, even a basic circle for the other three would at least create motion that the opposing PK would have to adjust to. Presently, they all go to their respective spots; then Eichel skates around trying to find any angle he can use. The other team is barely moving thus retaining their formation and leaving Eichel with only the options of forcing a pass through a mess of legs, try to snipe or merely call up a Amerk to literally stand wherever the other guy had been.

 

I honestly can say that I could make a better PP strategy than this coaching staff.  

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Their 5 on 3s are even worse - all year - they are so afraid to take shots, and when they do they often miss the net which is the worst thing to do on a 2-man...

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12 hours ago, Brawndo said:

The puck movement and decision making seems to be much better on the second unit. 

Also Ryan Stimson did a piece for the Athletic where he advocated for a player on the PP to be under the goal line and ideally behind the net to have the puck and run it from there. The idea being that defenders are less likely to engage an attacker back there and that goalies are more likely to lose sight of what the other four skaters are doing as his attention is focused behind the net. 

The Swiss ran something similar during the WJCs with good success. 

I saw that and looked at other examples.  I really like the idea.  Additionally, you are moving the puck low so any turnovers are less likely to lead to the opponent rushing down the ice because your D got caught trying to get the puck.

I think the Sabres would do well to have that same setup and put Reinhart behind the net.  Eichel and Risto the point people who can fire the one-timer and Skinner and <insert someone> to get inside the lower D to get rebounds.

Beyond just the goaltender it forces the opponent to bring their high PK players back into the zone to prevent the 3 on 2 down low.  This frees up the point for moving into better shooting positions.  It also forces the D to continually turn to see where things are at.

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How to fix power plays is not really a mystery.  With a man or two advantage, someone is always open.  The key is rapid puck movement to get it to that open man.  The other thing that can work so well is the point man moving with the puck.  That movement continually sets up screens, which makes it extremely difficult for the goalie.  Larry Murphy made it to the HOF primarily because, at the point, he was continually moving with the puck, raising havoc for penalty killers and the goalie, and scoring or creating opportunities for others to score on deflections or rebounds.

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3 hours ago, LTS said:

I saw that and looked at other examples.  I really like the idea.  Additionally, you are moving the puck low so any turnovers are less likely to lead to the opponent rushing down the ice because your D got caught trying to get the puck.

I think the Sabres would do well to have that same setup and put Reinhart behind the net.  Eichel and Risto the point people who can fire the one-timer and Skinner and <insert someone> to get inside the lower D to get rebounds.

Beyond just the goaltender it forces the opponent to bring their high PK players back into the zone to prevent the 3 on 2 down low.  This frees up the point for moving into better shooting positions.  It also forces the D to continually turn to see where things are at.

Guy named Gretzky got quite a few points from setting up behind the net. The net acted like an offensive line blocking defenders for him to make passes.

I hadn't thought of this with the Sabres, but Reinhart may be the perfect guy for that setup. He has made some beautiful passes from there. 

This play also opens up the wrap around shot when the D become overly focused with the other 4 guys.

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3 hours ago, LTS said:

I saw that and looked at other examples.  I really like the idea.  Additionally, you are moving the puck low so any turnovers are less likely to lead to the opponent rushing down the ice because your D got caught trying to get the puck.

I think the Sabres would do well to have that same setup and put Reinhart behind the net.  Eichel and Risto the point people who can fire the one-timer and Skinner and <insert someone> to get inside the lower D to get rebounds.

Beyond just the goaltender it forces the opponent to bring their high PK players back into the zone to prevent the 3 on 2 down low.  This frees up the point for moving into better shooting positions.  It also forces the D to continually turn to see where things are at.

 

7 minutes ago, French Collection said:

Guy named Gretzky got quite a few points from setting up behind the net. The net acted like an offensive line blocking defenders for him to make passes.

I hadn't thought of this with the Sabres, but Reinhart may be the perfect guy for that setup. He has made some beautiful passes from there. 

This play also opens up the wrap around shot when the D become overly focused with the other 4 guys.

Wouldn't be opposed to trying this.  It definitely forces the goalie to be moving as shots come in.  

Would be concerned with the possibility of this allowing the D to clog the shooting lanes as the 2 forwards would necessarily be set up lower.  But for shots that do make it through, the goalie wouldn't be set.

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2 hours ago, Formerly Allan in MD said:

How to fix power plays is not really a mystery.  With a man or two advantage, someone is always open.  The key is rapid puck movement to get it to that open man.  The other thing that can work so well is the point man moving with the puck.  That movement continually sets up screens, which makes it extremely difficult for the goalie.  Larry Murphy made it to the HOF primarily because, at the point, he was continually moving with the puck, raising havoc for penalty killers and the goalie, and scoring or creating opportunities for others to score on deflections or rebounds.

That was my point.

we don’t need to do anything different other moving the puck with more speed.

I mean, I’m not opposed to different, but setting up and controlling play from behind the net won’t work either if they continue to more the puck deliberately.

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30 minutes ago, Weave said:

That was my point.

we don’t need to do anything different other moving the puck with more speed.

I mean, I’m not opposed to different, but setting up and controlling play from behind the net won’t work either if they continue to more the puck deliberately.

Butif the players you have on the ice given the roles they've been assigned CAN'T move the puck with speed, then you do have to do, or at least try, something else.

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24 minutes ago, Taro T said:

Butif the players you have on the ice given the roles they've been assigned CAN'T move the puck with speed, then you do have to do, or at least try, something else.

I agree with the premise, but I don't feel our players can't do it.  (double negative alert) We have two second overall talents, a 1st overall talent, a goal scorer the likes we haven't seen in 20 years, and an 8th overall pick.  All of whom have shown the ability to make plays at high speed at even strength.

I'm not sure why our PP is so damned deliberate in its movement, but I don't think it is player related.

Edited by Weave
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