Name one person who is happy with the Flames’ powerplay.
Okay, now that we’re done all collectively shrugging our shoulders and/or spitting on its useless corpse, let’s talk about how we want to fix it, and then pray that someone in power will heed the words of this Flames blog’s comments section.
At first glance, the Flames’ powerplay isn’t doing that poorly. They’ve scored 20 goals on the man advantage, tied for eighth in the NHL. They have a success rate of 18.86%, 17th. If you believe that a team’s performance will ultimately be reflected in its overall numbers, then you believe the Flames are on the right track, and it’s not that farfetched an opinion to hold.
But then you sit down and watch how the Flames not only don’t score on their powerplay opportunities, but it seems to actively kill their momentum. Not scoring is fine – nobody is expecting an 100% success rate, or a 50% success rate, or even 30% – but that their play is better without the man advantage, or that they can generate better opportunities shorthanded, is a real problem.
In the 12 games since Sean Monahan scored a powerplay hat trick against the Flyers, the Flames have scored a grand total of six powerplay goals on 38 opportunities: a success rate of 15.79%. Pick a nice number – their past 10 games – and it’s four powerplay goals on 32 chances: 12.5%.
So. What’s to be done about this?
For some context, three players have spent 100+ minutes on the man advantage so far this season: Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and T.J. Brodie. Rounding out the top 10 are Mark Giordano, Kris Versteeg, Dougie Hamilton, Mikael Backlund, Micheal Ferland, Matthew Tkachuk, and Troy Brouwer. Eleventh place – accounting for Versteeg’s absence – goes to Jaromir Jagr; 12th place – accounting for Jagr’s absence – goes to Sam Bennett.
Monahan leads the way with seven powerplay goals. Ferland has four. Gaudreau and Hamilton have two each, while Giordano, Versteeg, Backlund, Brodie, and Tkachuk have one each.
Gaudreau leads the way with 14 powerplay points. Monahan and Brodie have nine each. Versteeg and Tkachuk have five; Giordano, Ferland, and Backlund have four; Hamilton has three; Brouwer has two, Jagr has one.
Monahan leads the way with 25 powerplay shots. Gaudreau has 24. Versteeg and Ferland have 18 each, Hamilton 14, Giordano 11, and Brodie 10. Tkachuk has seven, Brouwer and Jagr six, Backlund four, and Bennett, Michael Frolik, Travis Hamonic, and Mark Jankowski one apiece.
In other words: Gaudreau and Monahan lead the Flames in scoring by a fair margin, and that extends to the man advantage. If they aren’t getting it done there, chances are nobody is.
For all of the minutes Brodie gets on the powerplay, he’s racked up the assists, but trails in every other stat. His 100-minute cohorts both have over 20 shots each; Brodie not only trails vastly behind them, but is being outshot by two defencemen who play roughly 30 fewer minutes on the man advantage than he does. If one accepts the powerplay as a chance designed solely for the team on the offensive to score and nothing else, then Brodie isn’t the right choice to be receiving so many minutes, because he isn’t contributing. Six of his assists are secondary.
Versteeg is out, but Ferland looks to be an admirable fill-in; not only does he shoot the puck, but after Monahan, he’s the Flames’ best bet to score.
I feel I can say with confidence that Monahan, Gaudreau, and Ferland all belong on the Flames’ top unit. Furthermore, as two other top scorers on the team, Backlund and Tkachuk deserve spots on the powerplay. Giordano and Hamilton have earned places as well, but should have bigger roles than Brodie, who still works – but not on the top unit.
After that, I’m going to turn it over to you. What should be the composition of the Flames’ powerplay? Who’s the quarterback, who’s screening the net, who’s on the half wall? Umbrella system, 1-3-1, or something else entirely? Why is it so hard to get set up, let alone re-enter the zone? (Who decided bumping back was a good idea?)
What would you do to get the Flames’ powerplay back on track – or at least not have it suck all the momentum out of the team?