Canadiens GM Lennart Westman and Detroit GM Mathias Lundgren combine their efforts again to rank the 32 BEARD Hockey teams by power play acumen.
This is the third of three articles focusing on special teams in BEARD Hockey. While the first one ranked the teams risk to gather penalty minutes and the second one ranked teams' penalty kill abilities, this article focuses on power play.
We have looked at SK/PH/PA/SC for defenders and adding FO for forwards since once again winning face offs is crucial to PP success. We do know that some of you might wanna play an extra forward instead of a D, but the model is built on 3F + 2D.
Once again the index we present is an average based on those numbers and players. Enjoy!
Mathias & Lennart
#32 BUFFALO (75,49) Lower average on most critical stats for PP success indicates that GM Gidlow has built this team more on defense rather than offense. One of the strongest teams in PK, but way down in the bottom of the list in this case. Some teams will choose to play an extra forward instead of a D, but here even that wouldn’t make much difference…
#31 SEATTLE (75,92) In Swedish Kraken actually means ”weakling” and guess what – that’s quite appropriate for the PP this team is expected to deliver. Slightly better scoring and puck moving ability than the Sabres, but the stats are strongly driven by merely two players which makes it an easy man advantage to fight off for the opponents.
#30 PITTSBURGH (76,41) As predicted already in article one this is a team that won’t cause much problem for you in your four against five play. Not a single 80+ scorer, not a single 80+ playmaking forward and lower puck handling average than most teams brings this team down to rank 30. While most teams tend to lean more towards offense or defense this is a team that leans in absolutely no direction. Could that really be the winning concept? Were about to find out.
#29 TORONTO 76,43) Unlike Pittsburgh the Toronto franchise have made a clear choice; Defense comes first! Therefore it’s not very surprising to find them at the lower part of this rank. Sure, they have a couple playmakers and snipers, but the overall skating skills and the puck moving skills with their D-men is low.
#28 WINNIPEG (76,46) What good is speedy skating when you can’t handle the puck while moving? Here’s when we’ll find out. Then again, the Jets won’t win the face offs, so either way they won’t be much of a threat in PP.
#27 NEW YORK RANGERS (76,94) ”One swallow does not make a summer”, but maybe the single best forward in the league might make a good PP? We actually think Connor McDavid alone will help his team to a much better PP percentage than spot 27 indicates. But statistics are statistics and with this model and the absence of players winning face offs and puck moving defenders this is what you get.
#26 CAROLINA (77,03) Similar to the Penguins this team has not only a lower DF average than most teams, but also lower skating and scoring average. This team is expected to move the puck around on the outside, looking for Tavares or Svechnikov. An easy read for the opposition and rank 26 for the Canes.
#25 MINNESOTA (77,19) With Huberdeau, Teravainen (both since traded!), Karlsson and Jones on the team it might be surprising to find Minnesota on the lower quarter. The weak spot is the puck handling, especially with the defenders. So despite the skills of the named quartet this PP won’t be very wild.
#24 VEGAS (77,20) Just like many others the Golden Knights have put all their offensive and puck moving skills up front and all their scoring trust in Ovechkin. We´re not saying it won’t work… oh wait – actually we are!
#23 CALGARY (77,55) This team has good skating and playmaking skills, but the puck handling is way below average and who will score? Not much sting in this, GM Pepper!
#22 DALLAS (77,90) Two Swedes up front is never wrong, but it wouldn’t hurt your PP percentage to have at least one or two more scorers on your team. But overall, good skating and playmaking skills, even among the defenders. Better FO and a scoring blue liner and this team would rank much higher.
#21 SAN JOSE (78,00) Another of the top ten PK-teams that ranks low in PP. That’s more an indication that the other teams have put even more effort into offensive skills than that the Sharks won’t be able to score in PP occasionally. The major problem is that they won’t win many face offs and therefore have to put their trust more into five on five than PP to win games.
#20 COLORADO (78,11) Yet another team that hasn’t been able to pair up good skating with good puck handling skills. And when the scoring and playmaking average isn’t higher than here it becomes a not so dreadful power play in the end.
#19 LOS ANGELES (78,23) A great PP1, a not so great PP2. But beside the obvious FO problem this team will cause some damage with their man advantage. Expect a versatile power play with position changes and tricky shots. With a better D as a quarterback on the blue line this could be really dangerous.
#18 ANAHEIM (78,42) We have mentioned this teams’ low skating average before. A few decent scorers, a couple of decent playmakers that all seem to end up in the first PP lineup, leaving the second to be way weaker. We suspect this team will be stressed down by better skating opposition.
#17 EDMONTON (78,52) We’re in the middle of the rank and you can tell as the teams in these spots either are really good in one area and lack skill in the others or are merely decent on all flanks. The Oilers possess high skating skills and paired with decent puck moving skills and snipers like Hertl and Nelson we have just that – another team in the middle.
#16 OTTAWA (78,67) Here’s the ”One swallow”-syndrome all over again. Eichel is a great player and will be very productive in PP as well. And the whole team possesses exceptional skating skills, but the success in PP will depend on Eichel alone, maybe Schenn to some extent. Way too easy to read and fight off to bring the Senators any higher than rank 16.
#15 MONTREAL (78,72) If one swallow doesn’t make a summer, will three? Aho, Malkin and Rantanen with possibly Petry and Leddy on the blue line will be one of the most feared first PP-line ups. But if the Canadiens need to go to PP2 Benn, Skinner, Hornqvist will be easier to fight off. So, no summer, but at least a rank on the upper half.
#14 WASHINGTON (78,79) With Ryan Ellis and Sami Vatanen as conductors on the blue line the Capitals will orchestrate a PP to be respected and maybe even feared. Once again we see versatility and position flexibility and maybe for the first time in this rank, two fairly strong PP line ups.
#13 DETROIT (78,87) A typical example of when numbers and Excel-documents are not to be trusted. If you’re not really good at anything, but not really bad either, you can rank highly even though your PP won’t be feared by many. You just let Larkin (since been traded) show off his speed skating, keep him on the outside and there will be no one left to score. Easy peasy.
#12 NEW YORK ISLANDERS (78,99) Just like a few other teams the Islanders have a player with the capacity to win games on his own. Of course that goes for scoring in PP too. However, the puck-handling and playmaking skills behind Draisaitl and Barkov, isn’t too impressive. Still good enough for rank 12.
#11 FLORIDA (79,07) As good special teams are extremely important in the game GM Cook should be pleased to see that the Panthers not only have the second best PK but also rank 11 on this list. Panarin, Dadonov, Kubalik, Johansen, Edler and Pulock – all with the ability to set up and finish plays – won’t be as easy to control as the one hit wonder-teams. We strongly advice against taking penalties when you face the Panthers!
#10 PHLADELPHIA (79,29) First team to make top ten is Philly. Four great snipers, Josi on the blue line and Staal winning more than 50% of the face offs is the secret. Their weak spot might be PP2.
#9 COLUMBUS (79,63) With five 80+ scorers, six 80+ playmakers, and with Karlsson and Dahlin on the blue line the Blue Jackets are more than prepared to make you regret that penalty. If you don’t have a strong PK unit you will be scored on. And then we’re still only at rank nine…
#8 ARIZONA (79,72) Not looking as dangerous up front as Columbus at first sight the more you study Arizona the more you realize how bad it can hurt you not to be very disciplined against them. High skating and puck-handling averages in combination with a great eye for setting up plays and scoring as well brings the Coyotes to rank 8.
#7 ST LOUIS (79,85) Just as sure we are that St Louis will get a lot of penalties and will have big problems fighting them off, just as sure are we that when they occasionally get to play with the man advantage they will have a great chance to score. Crosby and Kadri will win the face offs, giving Burns and Hedman the opportunity to set up the play. Kane will be on the left, Gallagher to the right and the puck might just be found in the net.
#6 BOSTON (79,91) Getting close to the impressive 80 average the Bruins rank as high as top six. That might be of some consolation to a GM that will have way more use of his PK unit than the PP ditto. But given the opportunity the chances are this team will score on you. Their PP2 wont be too scary, but their PP1 is something else.
#5 TAMPA (80,13) Now, this is impressive. The #1 PK team is also the #5 PP team. And the expected PP success is not just because of one man. Matthews, Wheeler, Hamilton, Letang and Smith all have the capacity to set you back a goal. You should be happy if you just manage to at least win a face off or two against Glendening and Lowry.
#4 NEW JERSEY (80,21) While the devils play making skills aren’t exceptional their top scoring, skating and puck handling is. And when you see that behind the top skaters the stats aren’t too great you understand how great Marchand, Toews and Yandle are. Any gravel in the machinery though and PP2 won’t be able to live up to this rank.
#3 CHICAGO (80,22) Take a second and reflect on what. 80+ as an AVERAGE on your PP-skills actually means. Ten players, four-five stats/player and you end up with an average higher than 80. Indeed a special team set up to envy. Such as the Blackhawks’. Five 80+ scorers, five 80+ playmakers with D-man John Carlson in splendid isolation with PA 94. Add to that great puck handling and superb skating skills and you’ll understand that not many of your penalized players will have to sit the full two minutes in the box.
#2 NASHVILLE (80,69) Without competition the most skating skilled team in the league is also the team with the largest number of quality scorers and playmakers. And two of the the highest FO-ranked centers! And as we have said before, they will need to score a lot to win games, ’cause this team is also one predicted to end up with a high GAA. But when it comes to power play they are only to be beaten by…
#1 VANCOUVER (80,86)
Thanks to overall high play making skills, three FO-experts and great stats on top players like Pastrnak and Guentzel Vancouver, to some surprisingly, is expected to have most success in PP of all teams in BEARD hockey. Being the third best team in PK as well Vancouver GM Sanderson is to be congratulated on building special teams to be envied by a whole league.