Entering the season last year one of the main focal points for the Golden Knights was improving the power play. It didn’t quite happen, yet the team went on to overcome it and lift the Stanley Cup.
Despite it working out in the end, complacency is not the plan for 2023-24.
We know that it’s an area we want to improve upon from last year, I think we can all agree on that, but how how much better it can be we will find out. -Bruce Cassidy
Step one in the process of improving on the power play is figuring out who plays where with Reilly Smith no longer in the fold. The first unit appears to be settled with Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson and either Alex Pietrangelo or Shea Theodore.
The standard operating procedure with that group would be to have the defenseman up top by the blue line, Eichel and Marchessault in the circles, Stone in front of the goal, and Stephenson in the bumper. However, Cassidy says he’s intrigued by the power play setup used by Edmonton and previously used by Winnipeg when they had Patrik Laine. It calls for three players of the same handedness as part of the band of three in the middle of the power play. That would mean swapping Stone and Stephenson.
That’s something we might play around a little bit with. But we love Stoney as a drop off guy so we would be taking away a strength to try something. We have to be a little bit careful. -Cassidy
One of the biggest added benefits to this type of look is that it allows for more player movement and interchange. With all three players through the middle being right-handed, any of the three of Eichel, Stone, and Marchessault can switch spots in an attempt to disorganize the opposing penalty kill.
Cassidy loves the idea of more player moment from his power play units. It’s just getting the players to actually do it can be easier said than done.
That’s on the players. Once they get to their spots, if they don’t like it, well I don’t have a joystick on the bench to move them around. They have to be comfortable because they are the guys making the plays, so you have to work with what they like. I’ll try to convince them to not be predictable then. If you are always in your spot, how about we move 30% of the time and work that up to 50% of the time. -Cassidy
It’s something he’s been attempting to work in since he got here, but it hasn’t quite come to fruition yet. He plans on focusing on it again this year.
That was a tougher sell last year and being in my first year with a lot of different things going on we kind of pushed that one to the side a little bit. Hopefully we can build off that and get a little more movement and unpredictability in it. I’m not promising it but I think we’d like to be that type of power play. -Cassidy
Power play is one of the aspects of the game Cassidy prides himself on being strongest at coaching. He won the Cup without ever truly fixing a problem stemming back to the beginning of the Golden Knights franchise. He now knows it’s not a prerequisite to winning it all, but there’s no way that’s stopping him from continuing to strive for improvement.