There are many things to worry about for Minnesota Wild fans in this year's playoff match up against the Central Division champion Dallas Stars. Few things are as frightening as the Stars' power play. The Dallas power play features 41 goal scorer Jamie Benn, 33 goals scorer Jason Spezza, 11 goal scorer Patrick Eaves (currently in place for injured 33 goal scorer Tyler Seguin), 20 goal scorer Patrick Sharp, and 48 assist machine and 10 goal scorer John Klingberg.
Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff also has these players in position to succeed.
Patrick Sharp can quarterback the power play with his dual threat at the point. Klingberg is able to pull the puck off the half-wall and shoot the lights out from left circle. Spezza is the opposite of Klingberg but can shoot and pass from the half-wall with Benn out front giving the net-front presence. Eaves/Seguin can provide a below-the-goal line threat with the ability to pass and jump out front to provide screens and pick up rebounds.
But positioning isn't the only thing that makes this Stars power play such a threat. They shoot, almost constantly. I watched a recent power play in which 20 whole seconds ticked off the penalty time and the Stars had already had two shots on goal. Minnesota can hardly get two shots on goal in multiple power plays in a single game. The Stars rank 7th in the league in Shot Attempts per 60 minutes of time with the man advantage. And they're so good at finding the open man for the shot too. Watch this pass across the defensive box to Klingberg.
The shot didn't go in, but the Stars' shooters are able to draw the penalty killers out of position. The pass is made and the other players go straight to the net as the shot is then released. Benn comes out from behind the net and is basically in the crease hoping the puck squeaks through Tomas Greiss. Even Patrick Eaves, though late to the party, saw Klingberg taking the shot and started to head for the net. The Stars swarm, the shoot, and they do it all over again looking for a mistake.
Puck movement is key to this power play ticking along. They move high to low, east and west maybe better than every team in the league. The problem with facing a team that can move the puck as effectively and quickly as the Stars do is how to defend against it. Playing an aggressive style could force an errant pass, but it also will likely pull players out of position to defend against the shot. Playing passive just allows the Stars to pass around and through the box as they try to break it apart for the open shot.
Again, this play didn't end up as a goal, but you can see the though process here. It's east to west, high to low, and it's all done with a purpose. It's all done quickly. The passes are on the tape and the puck ends up on net.
A 22.1 percent for the regular season, as well as scoring the second most goals on the power play, the Stars have a clear advantage over the Wild's 27th ranked, 77.9 percent penalty kill.