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Power Play Dominance

Often lauded as one of the weakest parts of their game, the Minnesota Wild power play is now leading their charge into the playoffs.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Another successful night in Calgary has the Wild power play sitting at 25% in the John Torchetti era. What was once the teams Achilles heel under Yeo has now become the most reliable part of their game, and is a major reason they find themselves in a playoff position.

One of the most notable non-personnel related changes to the power play since Torcehtti took over was the aggressiveness of the left-side defender in the offensive zone. Under Yeo, this is the position that was almost always occupied by Jason Pominville. My biggest issue with Pominville in that spot was that he was complacent in his positioning near the boards. Here's what I mean: 

On top of Pominville occupying the most outer areas of the ice, he also rarely advanced towards the net to make himself a threat the penalty kill had to account for. Like so:

Fast forward to the Torchetti led power play, and that left side -now occupied by Spurgeon and Dumba- is the most active position on the ice. Dumba led the way early on, acting as a piston firing from the top of the circle down to the top of the crease.  It was not uncommon to see Dumba crash the net on rebounds from Suter's wrist shots from the blue line.

Now that Dumba has been moved to the second power play unit, Spurgeon has found himself in the left side defense spot. Spurgeon may not have Dumba's booming shot, but he has just as much, if not more agility when it comes to his movement from high to low.

Spurgeon's first power play goal last night may have mostly been the result of a lucky bounce, but it was good rotation after not receiving a pass for the one timer that led Spurgeon to be perfectly positioned in front of the net to score a tap-in goal.

Spurgeon's second goal was scored from a similar spot on the ice. This one had an element of luck to it as well, with Mark Giordano swiping the puck to Spurgeon, but the main reason this goal happened was good power play design. The Wild worked the puck from high to low on the right side, and Spurgeon snuck down for the backdoor one-timer on the left.

With the Wild's even strength game lagging under Torchetti, if they want to win the battle with Colorado for the final playoff spot, and then go on to make some noise in the playoffs, a dominant power play will make matters much easier.