The Golden Knights power play was much maligned last year. They finished the season 25th in the NHL, converting on just 16.8% of their chances.
To make matters worse, it didn’t improve with the addition of one of the most dangerous power play weapons in team history, Mark Stone. After the deadline, Vegas hit on just 7 of 45 power-play opportunities or 15.6%. They picked it up dramatically in the postseason, running at a 27.5% clip, but it was all against the same team, and it fell off a cliff in Games 6 and 7 when they went 0 for 5 and gave up a shorthanded game-winner.
This year, the Golden Knights have connected on 6 of their 20, 30%, which has them in 6th place in the NHL through 6 games.
Last game in Los Angeles, the power play looked unstoppable, going 3 for 3 and creating opportunities consistently. I set out to figure out what, if any, differences there were on the power play between now and last year (especially in the playoffs when the personnel was most similar).
The first thing to focus on is the entry. Vegas consistently uses a drop pass which leads to a puck carrier with speed brinign the puck through the neutral zone. He then brings it in himself or drops it off to one of the two wingers standings at the blue line. The Golden Knights strayed from this entry for a bit in the playoffs, but returned to it by the end of the series. So, for the most part, that’s completely unchanged.
The units are not far off from what they were against the Sharks in the postseason. The better unit includes Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Paul Stastny, Shea Theodore. The other unit includes Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson. The difference that Cody Glass in now in for Alex Tuch on the first unit, and Nic Hague and Valentin Zykov are in for Colin Miller and Cody Eakin on the second.
What this has done has created a small difference in the default layout the Golden Knights use once they enter the zone and are completely set up. It’s literally the only difference I can find, but there does seem to be a contrast in how the units operate due to the change.
To illustrate it, we head to the grease board!
Power Play setup last year with Tuch
Power Play setup this year with Glass
As you can see, the only difference is where Glass and Tuch play. Tuch is set up directly in front of the net with the idea of screening the goalie and picking up rebounds, while Glass is under the goal line as an extra passing option.
The main difference is the options that are presented for the two guys in the circles when they have the puck (Pacioretty and Stone).
Last year with Tuch
This year with Glass
There are five options with Glass under the goal line. As opposed to there only being four with Tuch in front of the net. Plus, it allows for a pass to Glass in a place in which he has options, while a pass to Tuch basically has to go directly back from where it came.
That being said, with Tuch there’s a body directly in front of the goalie making the shot a much better option because the goalie can’t always see it. With Glass, there’s an extra passing option, which spreads out the four penalty killers, and likely opens up the passes to Stastny or through the seam to Stone or Pacioretty in the other circle. However, without a screener, the shot from Pacioretty or Stone has to be perfect because the goalie can see it. Here’s how it looks in reality.
Last year with Tuch
This year with Glass
Through six games, it’s made a big difference as it’s accentuated Stone and Pacioretty’s roles on the power play. With more options, Stone has fed a bunch of passes through the seams to Pacioretty and Max’ shot has been so lethal that he hasn’t needed the screen in front of the goalie. In addition, Stastny’s been left open a bit more in the slot (likely due to penalty killers trying to take away other options) which led to both of his goals against Los Angeles.
The other unit has used Zykov in the role Glass has been in, with Karlsson in Stastny’s spot. It hasn’t been nearly as successful, though the sample size is minuscule.
It’s a tiny little wrinkle, and one is not necessarily better than the other. There are benefits to both, it just depends on the personnel on the ice. Glass’s positioning has seemed to help create more time and space for the other four on the ice and even without the screener in front, the puck is finding its way past the goalie.
Time will tell, but the other unit may be better served to have the body in front of the goalie (especially if it’s Tuch). That will create more space to shoot at, which should help Marchessault, Karlsson, Smith, and Hague in a big way from the point.
As for now though, we’ll probably be seeing more of Glass and Zykov under the goal line as opposed to in front of the goalie. If it keeps working, it may make an interesting dilemma once Tuch comes back. If not, it’ll further highlight how much this team is missing #89.
I haven’t looked at the videos to see if this is true but based on what you are saying a big positive with Glass on the PP is making the goalie move side to side more than if Tuch was on the ice. Even if the goalie aren’t being screened as much they are making the goalies work more and creating better chances because of it.
I’m not saying it’s better or worse but at least for the moment it appears to be working better.
THE hockey GOD
Even when Glass is on wing, he plays like a center;
on PP he plays behind the net/side of net like Gretzky used to play
I think teams with aggressive PK have given us problems. Have you broke down the numbers between a passive vs aggressive PK?
If it becomes an issue I’ll definitely look into it.
A) – Glass is a very good & smart passer. Plus, Stasney’s shot is much more effective in the slot close in. I just think the biggest improvement comes from Glass’s ability to distribute the puck.
OK, something that just bugs the hell out of me, is when, after a loss, it is said: we just didn’t have the effort tonight or no energy out there. How come they don’t ask WHY????? Look I know it’s a long season and hard to maintain “being up” every game … but COME ON, this is the beginng of the season!!! After the two emotional games against SJ, I “could see” somewhat of a let down when playing Boston in game 3. But then to come back in game 4, against a DIVISION rival and lay a big egg … WHAT? / WHY? I truly think our boys have a bigger than normal case of this “lack of effort”, when it makes no sense in that particular game/opponent! Is this on the coaches, team leaders?????
It’s called hockey against an underrated division rival that was hungry for a win. Don’t take Phoenix for granted. That is a good team.
One of the biggest differences from last season was that for the majority of the season, they were not set up for one-timers, and gave the defense and goalies a chance to move side to side. When Stone first arrived, he was in the right circle and is a right handed shot. That’s fine if he is going to facilitate from there, but with Pacioretty and Stastny being both left handed shots, this won’t work either. Flipping Stone and Pacioretty seems to have helped in that aspect a ton. Marchessault and Karlsson were set up the same way for two years, and it was maddening. I may have mentioned that on here a dozen or so times.
Glass doesn’t cough up the puck easily, and he makes quick, sharp passes. He also is a key part of the blue line entry. The biggest issues on the failed PPs have been losing faceoffs (team still mediocre), wide shots from the D (jury still out), blue line entry (much better), and sharp, pinpoint passes (much better). We’re starting to aggressively throw the puck around on the PP like other teams do to us. It’s very early, and he’s very young, but Glass already exhibits passing skills of the legends. He’ll get knocked around a bit, and he’ll have ups and downs, but when his linemates improve, and playing time improves, we should see dividends.
Interesting how one little move of a player can make such a difference. On a completely different and non-hockey issue…..dude, copy edit! Isn’t that what an intern is for?
Glass is actually in the Crosby position. The Pens PP has been like this for years . As Glass develops he will become the quarterback for the PP. The biggest advantage is the goalie has a hard time seeing where the pass is going while still watching for a wrap around. Stastny or Glass can still move in front of the net for a screen if needed. To see how the PP should develop with Glass watch the Pens PP. There’s a reason why they have consistently been 1 of the best PP year after year. With Glass they finally got someone that can make the plays from behind the goal line.