Martin Erat leads Nashville forwards with 9 points on the power play, but is he one of the reasons the team is struggling with the man advantage?
Back in training camp, Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz clarified that he was taking ownership of the team's power play this season, and despite a great deal of focus on that area, results are still underwhelming. Whether you use old-fashioned PP% (26th), Goals For/60 (26th), or Shots For/60 (27th), the Preds have failed to make progress with the man advantage this season.
What's to be done about this? I'd suggest that Trotz's time-tested meritocratic management philosophy should take hold here. The guys who are earning the opportunity and making the most of it should get more PP ice time, and those who aren't, should see their's trimmed.
That's easier said than done, however. The best analysis we have available says that putting lots of shots on goal is the primary driver of team offensive success (rather than working for the absolute highest-quality shots and passing up lesser chances). So it would seem that if you want to influence future results, put the guys on the ice who drive shots on goal.
But what if, in the short term, the bounces favor the guys who actually do that least, and as a result, they have some of your best point-scoring rates? Consider the following list of Nashville forwards who see regular duty on the power play (data from Behind the Net):
The first three columns (TOI, G/60, Pts/6) are for the individuals, while the last two represent goal-scoring and shooting rates for the entire team while that player is on the ice. So what we're seeing here is that while Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn are on the PP, the Preds put a paltry 30-33 shots/60 on net (the league-wide range at the team level is 73-43, with most teams around 48-49).
What do you do here if you're Barry Trotz? Look at the point totals, assume that SK74 and Erat have discovered some secret sauce on the PP, and load them up on ice time, or trust that the hockey gods have merely smiled on them so far, and hold their power play time hostage to driving more pucks on the net? It's a hard situation for a coach to deal with, when your highest point-getters are actually doing the worst fundamental work.
While you ponder that question, follow after the jump for your morning hockey news...
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