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Wild PP Woes More Than Personnel

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Hannah Foslien

I've beaten this subject to death throughout the season as the Wild's hot start on the power play in October dwindled to utter mediocrity as the season wore on. It is a subject of contention that Head Coach Mike Yeo has yet to answer. Power play convergence has not improved under Yeo's tenure - going unchanged at 17.9 percent and 16th place in the league from the previous season.

Surely, things will change this year as the special teams coach, Andrew Brunette, will now be behind the player bench, right? The biggest question is if the power play woes are more systematic or personnel. Media members are pointing to the Thomas Vanek signing as an improvement to the man-advantage.

PP Percentage
PP G TPP PP%
1 Pittsburgh Penguins 65 278 23.40%
2 Washington Capitals 68 291 23.40%
3 Boston Bruins 50 230 21.70%
4 Phoenix Coyotes 56 282 19.90%
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 50 252 19.80%
6 Colorado Avalanche 50 252 19.80%
7 St. Louis Blues 56 283 19.80%
8 Philadelphia Flyers 58 294 19.70%
9 New Jersey Devils 47 241 19.50%
10 Chicago Blackhawks 50 257 19.50%
11 Columbus Blue Jackets 54 280 19.30%
12 Nashville Predators 46 239 19.30%
13 Tampa Bay Lightning 50 270 18.50%
14 Ottawa Senators 50 271 18.50%
15 New York Rangers 48 264 18.20%
16 Minnesota Wild 45 252 17.90%
17 New York Islanders 49 276 17.80%
18 Detroit Red Wings 50 282 17.70%
19 Montreal Canadiens 48 279 17.20%
20 San Jose Sharks 50 291 17.20%
21 Edmonton Oilers 46 271 17.00%
22 Anaheim Ducks 44 275 16.00%
23 Dallas Stars 46 290 15.90%
24 Calgary Flames 39 249 15.70%
25 Winnipeg Jets 40 259 15.40%
26 Vancouver Canucks 39 257 15.20%
27 Los Angeles Kings 43 284 15.10%
28 Carolina Hurricanes 41 281 14.60%
29 Buffalo Sabres 36 256 14.10%
30 Florida Panthers 27 269 10.00%

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.


Team Shots per game


GP TS S/G
1 San Jose Sharks 82 2,851 34.8
2 New York Rangers 82 2,719 33.2
3 Chicago Blackhawks 82 2,715 33.1
4 Ottawa Senators 82 2,692 32.8
5 Boston Bruins 82 2,613 31.9
6 Dallas Stars 82 2,597 31.7
7 Los Angeles Kings 82 2,595 31.6
8 Anaheim Ducks 82 2,569 31.3
9 Carolina Hurricanes 82 2,561 31.2
10 New York Islanders 82 2,537 30.9
11 Vancouver Canucks 82 2,527 30.8
12 Winnipeg Jets 82 2,516 30.7
13 Phoenix Coyotes 82 2,499 30.5
14 Philadelphia Flyers 82 2,490 30.4
15 Detroit Red Wings 82 2,456 30
16 Pittsburgh Penguins 82 2,454 29.9
17 Florida Panthers 82 2,451 29.9
18 Tampa Bay Lightning 82 2,446 29.8
19 Columbus Blue Jackets 82 2,431 29.6
20 Colorado Avalanche 82 2,420 29.5
21 Washington Capitals 82 2,412 29.4
22 St. Louis Blues 82 2,402 29.3
23 Nashville Predators 82 2,382 29
24 Montreal Canadiens 82 2,330 28.4
25 Toronto Maple Leafs 82 2,290 27.9
26 Edmonton Oilers 82 2,208 26.9
27 Calgary Flames 82 2,199 26.8
28 New Jersey Devils 82 2,199 26.8
29 Minnesota Wild 82 2,180 26.6
30 Buffalo Sabres 82 2,156 26.3

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.

Average PPs per game
GP PPO PP/G
1 Philadelphia Flyers 82 294 3.59
2 San Jose Sharks 82 291 3.55
3 Washington Capitals 82 291 3.55
4 Dallas Stars 82 290 3.54
5 Los Angeles Kings 82 284 3.46
6 St. Louis Blues 82 283 3.45
7 Detroit Red Wings 82 282 3.44
8 Phoenix Coyotes 82 282 3.44
9 Carolina Hurricanes 82 281 3.43
10 Columbus Blue Jackets 82 280 3.41
11 Montreal Canadiens 82 279 3.4
12 Pittsburgh Penguins 82 278 3.39
13 New York Islanders 82 276 3.37
14 Anaheim Ducks 82 275 3.35
15 Edmonton Oilers 82 271 3.3
16 Ottawa Senators 82 271 3.3
17 Tampa Bay Lightning 82 270 3.29
18 Florida Panthers 82 269 3.28
19 New York Rangers 82 264 3.22
20 Winnipeg Jets 82 259 3.16
21 Chicago Blackhawks 82 257 3.13
22 Vancouver Canucks 82 257 3.13
23 Buffalo Sabres 82 256 3.12
24 Colorado Avalanche 82 252 3.07
25 Toronto Maple Leafs 82 252 3.07
26 Minnesota Wild 82 252 3.07
27 Calgary Flames 82 249 3.04
28 New Jersey Devils 82 241 2.94
29 Nashville Predators 82 239 2.91
30 Boston Bruins 82 230 2.8

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.


Team PP Goals Percentage


TG PP G PP G %
1 Washington Capitals 225 68 30.20%
2 Pittsburgh Penguins 242 65 26.90%
3 Phoenix Coyotes 210 56 26.70%
4 Philadelphia Flyers 233 58 24.90%
5 Buffalo Sabres 150 36 24.00%
6 Columbus Blue Jackets 226 54 23.90%
7 New Jersey Devils 197 47 23.90%
8 St. Louis Blues 239 56 23.40%
9 Edmonton Oilers 199 46 23.10%
10 Detroit Red Wings 217 50 23.00%
11 Montreal Canadiens 209 48 23.00%
12 New York Islanders 216 49 22.70%
13 Minnesota Wild 199 45 22.60%
14 Toronto Maple Leafs 222 50 22.50%
15 New York Rangers 214 48 22.40%
16 Ottawa Senators 229 50 21.80%
17 Los Angeles Kings 198 43 21.70%
18 Tampa Bay Lightning 232 50 21.60%
19 Nashville Predators 214 46 21.50%
20 San Jose Sharks 239 50 20.90%
21 Vancouver Canucks 191 39 20.40%
22 Colorado Avalanche 245 50 20.40%
23 Carolina Hurricanes 205 41 20.00%
24 Dallas Stars 231 46 19.90%
25 Boston Bruins 258 50 19.40%
26 Calgary Flames 202 39 19.30%
27 Chicago Blackhawks 261 50 19.20%
28 Winnipeg Jets 219 40 18.30%
29 Anaheim Ducks 263 44 16.70%
30 Florida Panthers 188 27 14.40%

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.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 NIEDERREITER, NINO Minnesota 109:14:00 18.126 1.648 0.917 11.11 77.78 0.889
2 FONTAINE, JUSTIN Minnesota 63:41:00 14.447 1.256 0.92 6.52 75 0.815
3 SUTER, RYAN Minnesota 291:37:00 24.347 3.155 0.885 9.01 89.13 0.981
4 KOIVU, MIKKO Minnesota 209:31:00 25.583 3.437 0.882 8.96 91.67 1.006
5 GRANLUND, MIKAEL Minnesota 154:14:00 21.007 2.982 0.876 10.49 82.61 0.931
6 PARISE, ZACH Minnesota 207:51:00 26.076 3.56 0.88 9.96 91.89 1.018
7 SPURGEON, JARED Minnesota 140:39:00 22.467 3.271 0.873 8.23 86.96 0.952
8 MOULSON, MATT Minnesota 217:48:00 23.508 3.03 0.886 10.55 96.97 1.075
9 POMINVILLE, JASON Minnesota 266:11:00 25.02 3.531 0.876 9.01 91.49 1.005
10 BRODIN, JONAS Minnesota 110:56:00 16.046 2.704 0.856 11.24 93.33 1.046
11 HEATLEY, DANY Minnesota 184:02:00 21.192 3.695 0.852 7.69 91.18 0.989
12 COYLE, CHARLIE Minnesota 155:15:00 19.453 4.251 0.821 8.61 84.85 0.935

I took a look at the individual stats of each player that saw over 60 minutes of power play time. What you can see here is that out side of Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter, the other defensemen that play on the point aren't getting enough shots off or through.

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.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 STEMPNIAK, LEE Pittsburgh 128:19:00 22.133 1.403 0.94 7.75 100 1.077
2 MAATTA, OLLI Pittsburgh 94:07:00 23.588 1.913 0.925 9.91 88.89 0.988
3 MARTIN, PAUL Pittsburgh 116:22:00 30.077 2.75 0.916 12.57 93.75 1.063
4 JOKINEN, JUSSI Pittsburgh 178:12:00 25.589 2.357 0.916 10.53 85.71 0.962
5 NISKANEN, MATT Pittsburgh 238:55:00 26.704 2.846 0.904 10.34 97.06 1.074
6 CROSBY, SIDNEY Pittsburgh 331:08:00 29.354 3.201 0.902 10.7 90.57 1.013
7 KUNITZ, CHRIS Pittsburgh 276:07:00 30.784 3.477 0.898 10.59 93.75 1.043
8 MALKIN, EVGENI Pittsburgh 264:59:00 29.738 3.547 0.893 10.15 89.36 0.995
9 NEAL, JAMES Pittsburgh 216:24:00 29.76 3.512 0.894 11.49 94.74 1.062
10 SUTTER, BRANDON Pittsburgh 86:08:00 20.898 2.554 0.891 8.89 81.82 0.907
11 LETANG, KRIS Pittsburgh 133:44:00 26.62 4.786 0.848 9.55 90.62 1.002
12 GOC, MARCEL Pittsburgh 57:01:00 18.942 5.262 0.783 3.7 86.67 0.904

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.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 PENNER, DUSTIN Washington 120:48:00 25.828 2.318 0.918 8.97 92.86 1.018
2 CARLSON, JOHN Washington 247:37:00 31.339 3.635 0.896 10.31 91.11 1.014
3 LAICH, BROOKS Washington 66:42:00 27.886 3.598 0.886 9.68 83.33 0.93
4 BACKSTROM, NICKLAS Washington 282:54:00 32.308 4.171 0.886 11.38 88.14 0.995
5 BROUWER, TROY Washington 262:52:00 33.325 4.261 0.887 11.64 89.29 1.009
6 JOHANSSON, MARCUS Washington 236:02:00 29.148 3.898 0.882 11.34 91.3 1.026
7 OVECHKIN, ALEX Washington 374:54:00 29.341 4.161 0.876 11.09 88.46 0.996
8 WARD, JOEL Washington 135:33:00 22.28 3.689 0.858 9.93 84 0.939
9 GRABOVSKI, MIKHAIL Washington 82:32:00 23.263 4.604 0.835 13.54 89.47 1.03
10 GREEN, MIKE Washington 178:24:00 24.215 4.933 0.831 12.5 86.36 0.989
11 CHIMERA, JASON Washington 69:12:00 26.879 5.78 0.823 10.75 85 0.958

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%.


Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 MESZAROS, ANDREJ Boston 55:10:00 22.115 1.088 0.953 11.48 100 1.115
2 ERIKSSON, LOUI Boston 115:49:00 26.248 2.072 0.927 11.18 100 1.112
3 BERGERON, PATRICE Boston 152:47:00 25.265 2.88 0.898 10.36 86.36 0.967
4 SMITH, REILLY Boston 131:37:00 25.529 3.191 0.889 13.1 85.71 0.988
5 SODERBERG, CARL Boston 130:00:00 24.615 3.077 0.889 13.75 85 0.988
6 HAMILTON, DOUGIE Boston 120:54:00 23.491 3.143 0.882 11.97 89.47 1.014
7 KRUG, TOREY Boston 192:24:00 27.235 3.534 0.885 9.16 94.12 1.033
8 IGINLA, JAROME Boston 186:27:00 26.924 3.647 0.881 9.96 91.18 1.011
9 CHARA, ZDENO Boston 179:08:00 28.359 4.019 0.876 10.24 91.67 1.019
10 KREJCI, DAVID Boston 196:49:00 27.03 3.76 0.878 9.77 91.89 1.017
11 LUCIC, MILAN Boston 184:44:00 27.174 4.006 0.872 9.96 91.89 1.018

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.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 KORPIKOSKI, LAURI Phoenix 51:44:00 24.356 2.32 0.913 4.76 100 1.048
2 EKMAN-LARSSON, OLIVER Phoenix 311:15:00 27.116 2.956 0.902 9.72 93.48 1.032
3 VERMETTE, ANTOINE Phoenix 194:22:00 25.828 3.087 0.893 11.16 90 1.012
4 BOEDKER, MIKKEL Phoenix 177:08:00 26.421 3.274 0.89 10.68 96.55 1.072
5 YANDLE, KEITH Phoenix 349:14:00 26.401 3.322 0.888 9.33 91.38 1.007
6 RIBEIRO, MIKE Phoenix 247:53:00 26.383 3.308 0.889 8.26 90.24 0.985
7 DOAN, SHANE Phoenix 182:20:00 26.654 3.62 0.88 11.93 93.94 1.059
8 VRBATA, RADIM Phoenix 209:23:00 26.745 3.63 0.88 7.5 92.11 0.996
9 HANZAL, MARTIN Phoenix 173:44:00 27.168 3.799 0.877 8.05 96.97 1.05
10 STONE, MICHAEL Phoenix 88:26:00 23.973 3.619 0.869 9.43 93.75 1.032
11 ERAT, MARTIN Phoenix 81:32:00 24.775 5.397 0.821 4.95 90.91 0.959

Phoenix/Arizona relies heavily on Oliver Ekman/Larsson and Keith Yandle to anchor the points on the power play. The Coyotes run their power play from their point-men and they deliver. Again, we see a PP unit with very active shooting defensemen.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 VAN_RIEMSDYK, JAMES Toronto 237:49:00 25.902 4.71 0.846 7.79 87.5 0.953
2 BOZAK, TYLER Toronto 149:07:00 25.752 4.694 0.846 8.85 80 0.888
3 FRANSON, CODY Toronto 222:40:00 23.264 4.671 0.833 8.88 90.38 0.993
4 KESSEL, PHIL Toronto 244:05:00 25.975 5.162 0.834 8.2 88.89 0.971
5 LUPUL, JOFFREY Toronto 163:37:00 23.225 5.012 0.823 12.63 92.68 1.053
6 GARDINER, JAKE Toronto 176:48:00 23.303 5.09 0.821 9.71 91.11 1.008
7 PHANEUF, DION Toronto 249:36:00 24.359 5.369 0.819 8.55 89.55 0.981
8 RAYMOND, MASON Toronto 160:37:00 19.176 4.981 0.794 13.64 90 1.036
9 RIELLY, MORGAN Toronto 139:01:00 20.142 5.179 0.795 13.57 88.89 1.025
10 KADRI, NAZEM Toronto 178:30:00 19.048 5.266 0.783 10.59 91.49 1.021
11 CLARKSON, DAVID Toronto 60:43:00 18.117 5.929 0.753 5.45 94.44 0.999

Toronto was held up by really strong FSh%'s by Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond, Morgan Reilly, and Nazem Kadri. The Maple Leafs have been a bit of a house of cards possession wise and their power play looks to be no different.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 PARENTEAU, PIERRE Colorado 132:36:00 23.68 2.715 0.897 5.1 94.44 0.995
2 HOLDEN, NICK Colorado 91:05:00 24.373 2.635 0.902 11.71 100 1.117
3 DUCHENE, MATT Colorado 180:03:00 21.772 2.555 0.895 11.22 100 1.112
4 O_REILLY, RYAN Colorado 198:31:00 22.769 2.922 0.886 11.06 96.55 1.076
5 MACKINNON, NATHAN Colorado 178:23:00 21.527 2.691 0.889 10.94 95.83 1.068
6 BENOIT, ANDRE Colorado 185:53:00 20.873 2.582 0.89 9.28 95.83 1.051
7 MITCHELL, JOHN Colorado 78:20:00 23.745 3.064 0.886 5.38 91.67 0.97
8 LANDESKOG, GABRIEL Colorado 183:06:00 20.098 2.512 0.889 8.15 100 1.081
9 STASTNY, PAUL Colorado 155:15:00 20.354 3.221 0.863 10.13 100 1.101
10 JOHNSON, ERIK Colorado 200:49:00 20.516 3.585 0.851 11.17 100 1.112
11 MCGINN, JAMIE Colorado 137:47:00 20.322 3.774 0.843 10.71 100 1.107
12 BARRIE, TYSON Colorado 165:07:00 18.775 3.755 0.833 10.32 100 1.103

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.

# Player Name Team TOI FF20 FA20 FF% FSh% FSv% FPDO
1 STEEN, ALEXANDER St.Louis 216:41:00 26.213 2.492 0.913 9.86 88.89 0.988
2 BACKES, DAVID St.Louis 190:10:00 25.136 2.629 0.905 10.88 88 0.989
3 TARASENKO, VLADIMIR St.Louis 107:16:00 21.255 2.051 0.912 10.53 81.82 0.923
4 SCHWARTZ, JADEN St.Louis 137:53:00 22.628 2.321 0.907 11.54 93.75 1.053
5 SHATTENKIRK, KEVIN St.Louis 256:27:00 24.722 2.886 0.895 9.46 89.19 0.987
6 OSHIE, TJ St.Louis 207:22:00 25.559 3.183 0.889 10.19 90.91 1.011
7 SOBOTKA, VLADIMIR St.Louis 94:26:00 20.544 2.542 0.89 11.34 91.67 1.03
8 ROY, DEREK St.Louis 166:25:00 24.757 3.245 0.884 8.74 96.3 1.05
9 BERGLUND, PATRIK St.Louis 119:08:00 18.97 2.686 0.876 7.96 81.25 0.892
10 PIETRANGELO, ALEX St.Louis 215:23:00 20.243 3.25 0.862 10.55 91.43 1.02
11 BOUWMEESTER, JAY St.Louis 172:28:00 18.206 2.899 0.863 9.55 96 1.056
12 OTT, STEVE St.Louis 140:39:00 20.476 3.839 0.842 4.86 92.59 0.975
13 MORROW, BRENDEN St.Louis 67:42:00 18.611 4.431 0.808 14.29 86.67 1.01

The Blues' highest shooters were Alexander Steen, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie, all big time players that know how to score.

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

I like the way Parise and Nino camp out in front of the net and are able to make themselves open to receive the puck. Who then better to deliver the puck than Mikael Granlund? Granlund has the vision and skill to find their sticks for goals. Then on the back end you have Scandella and Spurgeon. Both have shown the ability to score and this particular alignment gives the Wild right and left-handed options at the point, which means no more Pominville at the point. Also, setting up this way lets Suter find some time on the bench to help cut some of his minutes.

PP Unit 2:

Vanek - Koivu - Pominville

Brodin - Folin

Vanek is the key on this power play unit. He should be able to find areas on the ice to use his shot. I also have something radical for an idea: put Koivu in the middle of the ice. Koivu is big and strong and shouldn't be found on the periphery near half wall. He should be near the net, using his big frame like a David Backes to score the puck. For the last 3+ years, Koivu has been on the half wall trying to dish the puck rather than shooting the puck. If they change his role, I think you'd see his goal total rise considerably. Pominville has a great shot from the circles and he and Vanek can should be able to have room in the circles to shoot if Koivu is in front of the net. Now you're probably wondering why I put really young, inexperienced defensemen on the power play. In the attempt to manage Ryan Suter's minutes, I needed to find other defensemen that can shoot the puck. Brodin started last season on a scoring tear. it eventually slowed, but he was showing more and more of his ability to get the puck on net. As for Folin, a lot of my ideas will hinge on the fact that he has to make the team first. However, Folin has scored in college by using a heavy slap shot from the point. I would like to see him keyed on the point to show off his slapper in spots where he is allowed to be offensive.

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.