The Red Wings have had a great start to the 2014-15 season but they are struggling in one important area, the power play.
The Red Wings are 2 for 30 on their power with a measly 6.7 percent conversion rate going into their 9th game against the Washington Capitals today. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Jurco, Helm, Nyquist, Sheahan, Tatar, Dekeyser, Nestrasil, Kronwall and Franzen all spent time on the top two units at some point this year. Certainly there is enough talent on these units to produce, so what is the power play missing?
Lack of Power Play Quarter Back
I found myself agreeing with Mike Johnson of Sportsnet on his assessment of Niklas Kronwall the other night. While Kronwall is definitely a great offensive defenseman, he is not a power play quarterback and does his best work off the rush with quick little passes. The Red Wings have not had a legitimate power play quarter back since Nick Lidstrom retired.
While the Red Wings could look for a solution externally via trade, I believe there is a perfectly good solution that they could at least consider and that is Brendan Smith. Smith has been known for his offensive abilities all throughout his career leading to the NHL and has shown brief flashes of this talent over the last 2 years . This combined with the struggling power play makes Smith deserve at least a shot. I don’t understand Mike Babcock’s stubbornness when it comes to utilizing Smith and he simply refuses to give him the opportunity.
We do not realize how spoiled we were as fans to have those heavy right-handed shots on the team for all those years. Players such as Brendan Shanahan and Brett Hull could set up anywhere for a one timer and blast it home.
It is becoming more evident that we don’t have any real heavy shooters on our team. I mean don’t get me wrong, Datysuk, Zetterberg, Nyquist and Franzen have tremendous wrist shots and quick releases but we don’t have a player that can consistently hammer one-timers. We also only have one right handed player in Luke Glendening who is not suited for the power play at all. Ken Holland went out and got a pretty good right-handed shooter by the name of Daniel Alfredsson last year, which definitely helped out but I really feel like he was misused. Alfredsson made a career on the half wall and we played him on the point. I guess it was just lack of options.
Our best option to fill this role is Teemu Pulkkinen, who is waiting for his chance to make the jump to the NHL. He is right handed and has a lethal shot. He led the Grand Rapids Griffins with 31 goals last year and has 4 in his first 5 games this year as well. Red Wings brass feel that his game needs to become more well-rounded in order for him to take a roster spot.
Net Front and Attack
The will to score on the power play also seems to be lacking and this is something went away when we lost Tomas Holmstrom. Holmstrom had the uncanny ability to retrieve the puck and was a very underrated passer. Of course his main strength was his ability to screen a goalie as there was no one in the league better at it then Homer. All of the players that have tried to replicate him simply don’t have the courage that he did.
That being said they need to get scrappier on the power play. Take shots to the net. Fight for rebounds. Passing around the perimeter waiting for a play is not going to be very successful against most teams in the the NHL. They need to be mobile and continue to move to open areas to create more opportunities.
What do you think is the issue with the Red Wings power play so far this season?
– Derek Carnevale