Power Play Woes Go Beyond MacKinnon’s Absence

For several reasons, the Avalanche are in a slight scoring slump over the past 8 games. First and foremost is the loss of Nathan MacKinnon, second is a correction from the 10 game win streak, third is the power play falling off the table. They have 3 PP goals in the last 10 games and those were bottom 10 PK units like Vancouver, Edmonton and Buffalo.

The PP dropoff actually started about halfway through the win streak. In the first 5 games of the streak they went 8/17, which is impressive at 47% and totally not sustainable. Since then they’ve managed only 5 out of 43, which is not impressive at 11.6% and below their rate from last year.

The Buffalo Disaster

The Avs had perhaps their worst game of the season on the PP vs Buffalo recently. One goal for and two goals against vs the 21st ranked PK in the league. Via my own observations and some help from the good folks at Natural Stat Trick, here is some raw data:

Team stats

Time on PP: 8:30
Time in O-zone: 4:11
Zone entries: 13 (92 per 60)
Shot attempts: 18 (127 per 60)
– Missed: 4
– Blocked: 6
– On Net: 8
Scoring Chances: 6 for, 5 against (55%)
High Danger Scoring Chances: 3 for, 4 against (43%)
Average time between clear and re-entry: 12.4 sec
Average time in zone per entry: 14.8 sec
Odd man rushes against: 3
Goals against: 2 plus a penalty by Barrie while defending an odd-man rush

Individual stats

Zone entries
– Compher: 3 carries, 2 passes made
– Landeskog: 2 carries, 2 passes recieved
– Rantanen, Barrie, Girard, Yak, Soderberg, Jost all figured in one each

Shot Attempts
– Mikko: 4, 2 on net
– Barrie: 3, 1 on net
– Jost: 2, 2 on net, 1 goal
– EJ, Landy, Compher: 2, none on net
– Girard, Soderberg, Yak: 1, 1 on net


That’s a lot of noise and with nothing to compare entry data with it’s impossible to say whether any of this is good or bad, but there are some conclusions to draw. The average possession went like so:

Zone entry/faceoff… 5 seconds to set up into the standard cross formation… 1 shot attempt in 10 seconds of passing/stickhandling around… opponent then clears… Avs spend 12.4 seconds retrieving and setting up the zone entry then re-enter the zone

That’s just an average, there were 5 possessions that lasted less than 10 seconds and only one that lasted more than 30 seconds so it was all over the place. The main thing to take here is that puck retrieval was horrible. This is a side-effect of taking shots from the perimeter a.k.a. non-dangerous chances. High-angle shots tend to self-clear and shots from the point usually get blocked and cleared. The Grade A chances they did have ended up with retained possession or at least an o-zone faceoff or finally with Jost’s goal.

When we as fans watch the power play it’s frustrating to see the guys casually passing it around the perimeter but if the result of shooting at that point is only going to be loss of possession then it’s better to mess around. It’s difficult to develop Grade A chances on the PP because PKers are so well-drilled in preventing them. Take a formulaic approach and be disciplined and nothing bad will happen 80% of the time.

Another conclusion is that this isn’t strictly an issue due to Mack’s absence, it started long before he was injured and there’s little difference in effectiveness pre/post. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to have him back on the first PP unit but he’s not going to be a sure fire cure.

The Avs have a big home/road split on PP rate for the season, 27% home and 12% away. Over the past 15 games they are 2/18 (11%) at home and 3/25 (12%) on the road so that doesn’t seem to be a factor anymore.

The only thing left to do is fix the damn thing. That’s on Ray Bennett and the 10 guys on the ice. I’ve been critical of Bennett lately for letting this problem fester and not finding a solution. I can sympathize because it’s tough to make anything more that small tweaks on a system that’s largely done it’s job so far this year but 15 games is a significant portion of a season. It’s time to make some changes.

3 thoughts on “Power Play Woes Go Beyond MacKinnon’s Absence

Add yours

  1. How many drop passes per PP opportunity?

    I’ve been working on a different way to analyze PP/PK success, but it will take some time to gather all the data. There are some funky aspects of the whole system used by the NHL, and I think we could do better.

    1. They didn’t use the drop pass all that much in this game, mainly it was a stock breakout by either Barrie or Girard and then a cross ice pass in the neutral zone. The three carry-ins by Compher were all from drop passes though. My wild guess on that is they’ve had issues with offsides lately (they had 2 in this game) and failed zone entries using the drop pass.

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