Habs Power Play Analysis
by Sports Editor
October 22, 2015 | Sports
After 3 games this season, the Canadiens have looked like they will be the real deal this upcoming season. All four offensive lines seem to connect so well together, the defense and goaltending have been very good as well. However, there is one part that looks extremely concerning and that is the team’s power play.
Last year, the team had the 23rd best power play out of the league’s 30 teams. Assistant coach Dan Lacroix, who was in charged of the power play switched duties with the Penalty Kill specialist J.J. Daigneault in hope to get a new better strategy for the 2015-16 season. As of right now it doesn’t look better and some may even think worse than last year.
The Canadiens has gone 1 for 14 on the power play through 3 games thus far. Which is good for 25th out of 30 after the first week of the season. Sure, it’s a small sample but the placement isn’t the most concerning part of the power play. The Habs seem to look worse on 5 on 3 power plays than the 5 on 4 power plays. It could have to do with Daigneault’s limited offensive knowledge so he doesn’t give the team a proper set up to work with. Others believe that it could be a talent problem on the team which is why the only real plays they make is set up Subban for a one-timer from the point.
The problem with the assumption that there isn’t enough skill on the power play is that the team has players like captain Max Pacioretty who is a known lethal shooter in the NHL and scores 35 or more goals a year. His lethal wrist shot should be used more often on the power play but with him playing along the goal line rather than higher up he isn’t put in a position to be a lethal shooter.
Alex Galchenyuk who has an amazing shot from the right half wall on the power play, which he needs to use more. He already has hit two posts this season on the power play and has an assist on the lone power play goal this year. If he could improve his accuracy on the power play he could chip in a lot of power play shots.
They also added Alex Semin who is former 7-time 20 goal scorer in the NHL, including a 40 goal season back in 2009-10. He is coming off a rough season in Carolina where he only scored 6 goals but there is hope he can rebound to his 20 goal scorer self at the very least. Last season, he was recovering from a broken wrist, so his shot was great affected. With a now fully healed wrist, Semin looks to prove himself as a 20 goal scorer and that last season was only just a flue on a cheap 1 year contract. Semin has been known like Pacioretty and Galchenyuk to have a lethal shot and will likely use it if he used in the right area on the ice during a power play, which would be a little higher up like Pacioretty but on the other side.
These 3 alone should make people realize that there actually is more scoring potential than the last 3 years prior on the power play. It`s not just Subban and Pacioretty that are the only scoring threats anymore.
Another notable players who will be useful in other ways, is Lars Eller who is a big body who would be great in front of the net screening the goalie. While he does that he will also need to be the guy that moves around behind the net to feed his teammates along the half walls. He will likely remain on the second powerplay unit which may just be more lethal with both Alex Galchenyuk and Alex Semin on his sides(yes I’m suggesting Eller be the centre on that line during the powerplay).
The trio could be very effective on the power play, Eller would feed one of his two wingers, while the other charges the net to pick up a rebound just in case there is one. That doesn’t include the two defensemen on the point. When they have the puck, Eller should be placed in front to screen in case of a shot, while Semin and Galchenyuk should be in movement along the walls to create another option for the defenseman with puck. Something that is noticeable is that Habs players often don’t move enough in the system that is in place by the coaching staff for the powerplay, ever since Gallant left with a much weaker talent pool for the power play at the time.
Gallant was hired as the Florida Panthers’ head coach, during the 2014 summer . Gallant is definitely missed as the power play specialist as none of the other coaches have given a good successful strategy that works for long periods of time. However, it really doesn’t seem hard to think that they should use a strategy with more movement with talent group.
Another thing is that the powerplay lines should take the same whether it’s 5 on 3 or 5 on 4. During the team’s 5 on 3 power plays, they put the first unit as Pacioretty-Galchenyuk- Semin as the forwards, while it looks like a dream line on the power play it won’t work as all 3 are meant to play the same role as shooters on the powerplay. Galchenyuk can do both but his best asset is his shot on the power play. It’s much better to see the units being the ones that are put as followed:
Left wing: Brendan Gallagher: He has an underrated shot, and is good at getting into the dirty areas despite his size. Why should he play left wing rather than his normal right wing position? The answer is simple, it’s easier to get a shot off from the left side for a right handed shooter. The blade is facing the net rather than to the side where a pass would be made. He could be used as a shooter in front of the net depending on the situation.
Centre: Tomas Plekanec: He is likely the best play maker on this team, and has great chemistry with his linemates. He could feed his teammates from behind the net or even be in front of the net when Gallagher or Pacioretty is shooting position.
Right Wing: Max Pacioretty: He has the most lethal wrister on this team. He can’t continue to play below the line, he’d be much more useful along the boards unleashing wristers. Like Gallagher he would be better on his off-wing cause of his handness.
Left Defenseman: PK Subban: Can you really argue why he’s there he has an absolute cannon of a slap shot. He will blast the puck better from the left side. He may even double shift sometimes.
Right defenseman: Andrei Markov: While Markov may be known to be a set up man for Subban, he too has a cannon and would benefit from unleashing it from the right side of the ice.
Left Wing: Alex Semin: Interestingly enough he’s spent the majority of his career playing that position on the powerplay. His shot is very heavy from the left side and bury many for the Habs this year.
Centre: Lars Eller/ David Desharnais: The two of them should rotate on the powerplay with Eller getting most of the ice time because of his big body that could be used in front of the net to screen the goalie, plus he has great hands to carry the puck up the ice for his teammates. Desharnais would be a good asset because of his above average vision he connects so well with the linemates around him, he’ll be able to find Semin and Galchenyuk. He also has an underrated shot which gave him the lone powerplay goal.
Right Wing: Alex Galchenyuk: Galchenyuk could be the ultimate gem on this second unit, he has it all vision, shot and hands. His shot will be best used coming off the half wall where he has already hit two posts from. They will eventually go in.
Left Defenseman: Jeff Petry: He would benefit from being on the left side like the two others to crank shots from the point. His shot power isn’t excellent but it’s accurate and could find its way in the net. He has good vision for passing.
Right Defenseman: Nathan Beaulieu: He is going to be PK Subban`s quarterback on the powerplay soon but for now he’ll be anchoring the point alongside Petry on the second unit. His vision is developing as he is still only 22.