Through 12 games, the Flames have a powerplay success rate of 14.3% – tied for 24th in the NHL. They’ve scored all of six powerplay goals, but nothing since five games ago (and that was a five-on-three goal; you have to go back seven games to find a five-on-four goal).
Those powerplay goals came courtesy of six different Flames: T.J. Brodie, Johnny Gaudreau, Micheal Ferland, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, and Kris Versteeg. Gaudreau leads the way with five powerplay points, Brodie and Versteeg have three apiece, Mark Giordano two, and Ferland, Monahan, Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Jaromir Jagr one.
That’s it. Something’s gotta give – and maybe it should be the personnel?
The first powerplay unit currently consists of Troy Brouwer, Brodie, Gaudreau, Monahan, and Versteeg. The second is often Sam Bennett/Michael Frolik, Dougie Hamilton, Backlund, Giordano, and Tkachuk. Jagr and Ferland have also received some time on the man advantage.
Gaudreau and Monahan obviously aren’t coming off of the first unit, and Versteeg should be a fair bet to remain there, as well: he leads the team in powerplay shots.
Brouwer, though, is a different story. Over the 21:59 he’s played, he has three shots on net and… that’s about it. Compare this to Ferland, with a goal and four shots over 11:40, or Jagr, with an assist and two shots over 11:53. (I do believe Brouwer is filling in for Jagr while Jagr is out – right-handed shots and all that – but that’s pure speculation on my part.)
Brodie also provides an interesting look. Yes, he has a goal and two assists, plus five shots, over 46:34 of powerplay time. Giordano, however, has two assists and three shots over 28:34, while Hamilton has six shots over 27:26. It’s not that Brodie is doing poorly – it’s that another defenceman might be able to do more if he had Brodie’s minutes.
As for the second unit, well, we can probably be confident in Backlund, Giordano, Hamilton, and Tkachuk remaining fixtures on the powerplay, no matter which unit they’re playing on. The question then turns to just who fills in that last slot? (I’m sticking to my Jagr-on-the-first-unit theory; he had three minutes of powerplay time in his last game, during which he only played 3:49.)
It really comes down to three players: Bennett, Ferland, and Frolik. All three are left shots, so that’s not an issue here.
With Bennett, you have offensive potential that just hasn’t been consistently realized (or, in the case of this season, hasn’t been realized at all). He has one shot over 15:24 of ice time.
Ferland has a goal and four shots over 11:40 of ice time. As things currently stand, he’s getting another chance on the top line, making use of his large frame, powerful shot, and deceptively soft hands when he can, which apparently isn’t all that often.
And finally, there’s Frolik, who would keep the 3M line together, should Backlund and Tkachuk stay on the second unit. He has one shot over 12:12 spent on the man advantage.
In the hopes of restoring life to the Flames’ powerplay, how would you construct your two units?