While it was good to see the Predators finally score on the power play in last night’s 5-2 win over the Coyotes, their power play issues are far from over.

I mean, you can’t go 1-for-36 on the power play since January 10th and feel good about where your power play unit stands.

The play was a familiar one. After taking a pass from Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg ripped a hard wrist shot towards the left shoulder of Arizona goalie Calvin Pickard. The puck went in and it gave the Predators a 2-1 lead in the 2nd.

Save for the goal at the end, it’s a play we’ve seen many times over the last month.

The problems still remain. The structure of the power play, the movement by the point men, the positioning of certain players (Johansen still not below the goal line), and the general strategy of passing in predictable patterns to generate medium to low danger shots with little traffic in front.

All of these things add up to more of the same from the Preds’ most frustrating special teams unit.

“We had a lot of looks and a lot of opportunities on the power play,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “I thought that there could’ve been more than one goal – a couple of miscues on the shot, a couple of big saves, a couple that couldn’t find their way in.”

Sound familiar?

Filip Forsberg, the power play goal scorer himself indicated a similar sentiment: “We played well enough to have a couple more on the power play, but we’ll take one for tonight.”

While the Predators did get a few close looks on the power play last night, the general effectiveness of the unit looked just as it has all year. Which is to say it looked predictable and not very dangerous.

Here’s a look at where the Predators are getting most of their shots on the power play (red = more shots, green = fewer shots) courtesy of Hockey Viz.

Nashville Predators power play
The Predators still have major problems getting shots off from dangerous areas on the power play. Visualization from HockeyViz.

Almost all of the Preds shots on the power play come from the high circle area. The large red concentration on the right circle is almost exactly where Filip Forsberg shot the puck last night.

The high circle is a relatively high danger area when playing at even strength. But on the power play? Not so much. Penalty killers are normally playing in a tight concentration in that area, denying access to good shooting angles and passing lanes.

In other words, the penalty killers are giving that to you. They concede that area, knowing you can’t get much side to side movement from that far out. Any goalie with decent edge work can stay on top of the play from those angles on the power play.

In reality, the play which resulted in a power play goal last night is one we’ve seen countless times this year. A point man (in this case Josi) holds the puck to draw a defender, then passes to the nearest wing (in this case Forsberg) who either looks to shoot or pass to the low man.

Last night it worked (once), but it’s been a largely ineffective strategy on the power play this year. Consider these numbers:

  • 12.9% success rate (tied for 30th in the league)
  • 24 total power play goals (26th)
  • 13.5 shot attempts per hour (17th)
  • 16.9 high danger chances per hour (25th)
  • 9.0% shooting percentage (31st)

If the Nashville Predators want to improve their power play, they are going to have to overhaul the whole unit. This means changing the strategy and possibly even adding personnel at the deadline. Otherwise Preds fans might have to wait another 34 power plays for the next goal.

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —



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