Before I go any further talking about the Panther’s power play unit I would just like to invite the reader to picture a couple of scenarios with me. Let’s picture the Washington Capitals on the power play as they are currently 5th best in the league in that situation. Then let’s start placing the Caps’ players on the ice. Obviously the first name that would come to mind is Alexander Ovechkin. He is the current league leader in power play goals with 9. Truthfully after the “gr8” we really don’t have to place the other players on the ice. My question after knowing Ovechkin is on the ice is where exactly do you see him on the ice? Left wing should instantly come to mind. He has seared that image into our brains already.
The second scenario that I would like to bring up is of the Chicago Blackhawks on the power play. Just like Ovechkin comes up instantaneously when we think of the Caps, Patrick Kane comes up when we think of the Blackhawks. He has 7 goals on the power play so far which is good for 3rd best in the league. If you could place him on the ice, where would he be? Right wing would be a very safe bet.
So we now find ourselves looking at a situation where Ovechkin (right hand shot) is on the left wing and Kane (left hand shot) is on the right wing. This is not by accident. To me it is really just common sense. Yes we are talking about two of the all-time greats and when you have one of those on your team of course your power play numbers will look really good. But magicians really don’t have to dig deep into their magic hats to pull something out on the power play since being a man up already makes things simpler. The reason why they are so effective on the power play is that they are in the best position they can be. It is only natural and efficient to have a right hand shot on the left wing and a left hand shot on the right wing when being able to dominate possession as you can being a man up.
When Ovechkin has the puck on the left wing he is able to see where his teammates are and obviously he knows where the goal is. By being a righty on the left he is much more effective than if he were to be on the right. The pass is a much better pass for him and the release on the shot is faster and harder. It works the same way for Patrick Kane except just on the other side of the ice.
Now we look at the Florida Panthers. Obviously the first name that comes to mind when we think of a Panthers power play is Jonathan Huberdeau. For some reason however when we look back and try to find him on the ice during those situations we will find him (left hand shot) on the left wing. That is inefficient. He is naturally out of place. For Huby do to anything in the most efficient way he has to take time to adjust his body to carry out what he wants to do.
Cross ice passes are the best way to break down the opposing team’s defense when you are on the power play. It doesn’t do the Panthers much good if Huby receives one of those and he is on the left wing as it takes him longer to get a solid shot off. He is very dangerous if he is on the right wing. In fact, one of the very few times and truthfully the last time I saw him on the right wing during a power play he ended up scoring. That was when the Ottawa Senators came down to play against the Cats on December 3rd.
In order for the Panthers to improve on the power play the Panthers’ magician needs to live on the right wing. On that same token though, the cats need a right hand shot to also live on the left wing as well. They need to position themselves in the best way possible to be able to make that pass or that shot that will lead to a goal.