by Forechecker on 01/30/09 at 04:11 PM ET
A big part of Tuesday night’s big win in Vancouver was the contribution of the Nashville power play, which scored three times in a game for the first time in nearly two years (March 3, 2007 vs. Los Angeles). John Glennon makes the case that the mere presence of Steve Sullivan, even despite the fact that he only has two assists in six games so far, is perhaps the difference maker.
Sullivan has only recorded assists on two of the seven power-play goals, but he was on the ice for two more of the scores and is being credited with injecting a little more unpredictability in the extra-man attack.
“Our power play has confidence that when something gets taken away, he has the ability to think outside the box,’’ Coach Barry Trotz said. “He understands where people are and sort of freelances a little bit. Our power play has gone from being more static to a little more freelance concept, just by having him there.’‘
It’s a good observation by Glennon, and the advanced statistics from Behind the Net back the argument up…
GFON/60 shows how many Goals For per 60 minutes a given player is on the ice (all numbers here are from 5-on-4 action). RATING reflects how much better (or worse for negative numbers) the team performs when that player is on the ice, compared to how they do when he’s on the bench, and includes both Goals For and Goals Against.
What this tells us, then, is that when Sully’s out there the Nashville PP is clicking along at 9.08 Goals/60, a pretty good figure by NHL standards. Among regular players, San Jose’s Milan Michalek leads with 12.86, followed by Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom at 12.71.
The obvious caveat when talking about Sullivan is that he’s only six games into his season, so obviously it’s hard to project how things will go in the coming weeks. Without question, however, he is providing some much-needed diversity to the Nashville power play with his unique combination of speed and agility. The Preds will need every bit of that talent tonight against a Calgary squad which boasts the #5 PK (85.6%) currently.
Down near the bottom of this list you’ll see Shea Weber, who, despite some power play success early on, has slowed considerably as opponents have made shutting down his point shot a priority. Notable disappointments also include David Legwand, and rookie Patric Hornqvist. Given the overall offensive struggles the Predators have had to deal with over the last two months, squeezing every bit of production out of the power play has become all the more essential.
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