No matter what the Golden Knights have tried, the power play just is not getting better. With the postseason looming, it remains one of, if not the, biggest weakness for an otherwise fairly well-rounded team.
Since the All Star break, the Golden Knights power play has converted on just 14.3% of their opportunities. That’s 28th in the league, ahead of just Philadelphia, Winnipeg, St. Louis, and Chicago.
Our power play, I think we were in the zone a lot. We weren’t executing the last play. We lack that shooter to finish. So it’s something we’ve tried to create and tried to encourage. We need a little bit more of that mentality of shooting the puck on the power play. -Cassidy
Oddly, the Golden Knights actually aren’t bad at getting shot attempts on the power play. In the last 26 games (since February 1st), Vegas’s per 60 power play ranks are 10th in shots on goal, 9th in shot attempts, and 8th in non-blocked shot attempts.
For every 60 minutes of power play time, the Golden Knights average 104 shot attempts with 57 on goal. That’s 3.5 attempts and 1.9 on target per two-minute power play.
However they have been better. During VGK’s strongest power play run this season, most of the month of December, those numbers skyrocketed. VGK sat 1st in the league for a 14-game span in both shot attempts and shots on goal per 60, averaging 4.6 shot attempts and 2.9 on goal per power play opportunity.
Fair or not, many of the issues can be pointed directly at the team’s most expensive player. During the excellent power play span, Jack Eichel played just three games and recorded just one power play point (a secondary assist). The numbers with and without Eichel are stark.
with Eichel on the ice
Shot Attempts/60 – 84.8
Unblocked Attempts/60 – 85.5
Shots On Goal/60 – 57.8
Goals/60 – 5.9
without Eichel on the ice
Shot Attempts/60 – 90.5
Unblocked Attempts/60 – 89.3
Shots On Goal/60 – 71.1
Goals/60 – 9.7
Per NaturalStatTrick.com, Eichel has the fewest individual scoring attempts of any forward with 9.1 per 60, compared to Reilly Smith’s 19.7 and Jonathan Marchessault’s 18.4. He’s also low on the list in rebounds created. Eichel’s shots have generated just 1.4 rebounds per 60 with Smith and Marchessault at 2.8 and 3.6.
It all points to Eichel being more of a distributor than a shooter, which could be the problem. But, him shooting more also hasn’t been the answer. Eichel boasts just a 4.88% shooting percentage on the power play, the 5th worst of any forward in the NHL that has played at least 150 power play minutes (147 qualify). And, he actually doesn’t shoot too much less than the others on his unit. He’s just five shots behind Smith and 10 back of Marchessault.
When Cassidy says “we lack that shooter to finish,” he’s essentially saying Eichel’s shooting is not getting the job done. Marchessault, Smith, Stone, and Stephenson all shoot over 13% on the power play.
On the other unit, the numbers are fairly similar for Phil Kessel. His shooting percentage is just 6.9% while he’s attempted the 7th most shot attempts and put the 5th most on goal (both highs for the players consistently on the 2nd unit).
There’s no easy fix, as the Golden Knights are not exactly overflowing with elite shooting options. So, if they want their power play to start hitting at a better rate, Eichel and Kessel need to significantly increase their shooting percentages, or stop shooting at all.