In 11 years, the Nashville Predators powerplay has only ONCE finished in the Top 10 in the league and has averaged a conversion rate of 15.6%. Currently, the Predators are on pace to have their WORST Powerplay conversion rate since the 2001-2002 season. So, what’s the problem with our powerplay?
I don’t know if it has to do with coaching so much, as we’ve had the exact same coaching staff since 2003 and that same coaching staff lead us to 2 years with a moderately successful powerplay (I say moderate because 18.4% and 17.4% conversion rates aren’t great). The coaching aspect of the powerplay bubbled over the brim after last seasons 1st round loss to the future Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. In a post-series press conference, Barry Trotz stated that he would take the primary role in coaching the powerplay during this season. However, if Trotz is the C.O. behind the bench AND the C.O. of the powerplay…then the question that I think is on the minds of most Predator fans and won’t be touched by anyone else is…what is Peter Horachek really doing?
I didn’t really want the topic of this conversation to lead to Peter Horachek, but I feel if we’re talking about the powerplay then we need to include Horachek. I truly feel that, regardless of what Trotz said about essentially taking “control” of the powerplay, Horachek is still the man behind the wheel. If this is the case…WHYYYY??????? The only time, since Horachek arrived in 2003, that the powerplay was even remotely successful were when Paul Kariya (71 total PP points in 2 years) played for this team. Past that, we’ve had the same core of players here and it leads you to believe that the coaching, even if it does seem futile, isn’t the core of what the issue is, however a bona fide sniper being on the team.
Before you ask, no, I don’t think Mike Fisher is the answer to our powerplay woes, nor is removing Horachek (which I still am at a loss as to what part of the team he coaches, or whether his role with the team is kinda like Belak’s role with the team), however the answer lies within every single player that sits on that bench. There are 3 major things wrong with the Predators powerplay:
1) Cutesy passes – Stop it…just STOP it. Don’t try to pass in between someone’s legs. 9 times out of 10, it’s just not going to work
2) Shooting blanks – C’mon guys, you all know how to aim better than that. It’s never going to get through to the back of the net if you are aiming at the logo on the center of the goalies chest. I understand the shots that are intended to bounce off the boards behind the goal and end up on the other side, that’s good strategy, but when your aiming of the shot either centers it on the goalies chest or misses entirely, then you need to take a couple shifts off and think about what you are doing
3) Offensive Presence – Our most prevalent problem. Most of the powerplays that we have end with 0 shots on goal…most of the 2 minutes being spent just TRYING to get into the offensive zone to get something going. Now, in the rare event we actually DO get something set up in the offensive zone, we tend to cycle it along the right sideboards…or the left sideboards…baaaack…and forrrrrth…kind of boring eh? But you see what I just did there? I telegraphed the Nashville Predators powerplay. If I, just a regular hockey fan, can see this, you better believe that the videographers/coaches/players from other teams can see this.
Our powerplay could be the BEST POWERPLAY in the National Hockey League. That is NOT a joke. You can see what I’m talking about any time our powerplay actually converts, which leads me to the 3 things that we do right whenever our powerplay converts:
1) Wrist shots from the point: Shea Weber is the biggest culprit with this. Whenever Shea fires a wrister, it’s not only a deadly shot, but always seems to make it TO the goalie. I can’t remember a time when a from-the-point wrist shot HASN’T made it past at least 1 or 2 penalty killers
2) IN-THE-CREASE: Highlighted in my very first post when I was talking about Hornqvist, get someone planted in front of the goalie and keep them there. This prevents the other goaltender from doing something that they need to do to stop the puck…SEEING. Their eyes are PREVENTED from locating where the puck is. If they can’t FIND the puck…makes sense that the puck has a better chance of going in the net
3) Reduced number of passes: There should be a rule that the ratio of passes-to-shots on the powerplay should be 3-1, 3 passes to every 1 shot. We should ALWAYS have more than 0 shots on goal during the powerplay. I know that every one of you that is reading this hasn’t at one point in time yelled “SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT” during a Predators powerplay. If you haven’t, then you were either sleeping, weren’t really paying attention, or had already lost your voice from yelling earlier.
I know, preaching to the choir. We all hope and pray that one day the Preds will actually stay consistent on the power play and give us a dual threat on our special teams. However…we’ve been waiting 11 years for powerplay consistency, I don’t see the futility ending any time soon. That may change though if we end up going 1-20+ in the postseason again…
We can always hope…right?
Thanks for reading!