The Vegas Golden Knights have the worst power play in the NHL. They’re 0-for-11 this year with the man advantage. And it’s been 28 attempts – dating back to last season – since Vegas found the back of the net on the power play.
It’s gotten progressively worse over time. During the 2020-21 season, the Golden Knights finished 22nd in the NHL with a 17.8 percent conversion rate on the power play. It dropped to 9.3% during the Stanley Cup Playoffs that same year – worst among the 16 teams that competed in the postseason.
Vegas hasn’t scored a power play goal in well over four months. The last time they converted with the man advantage was June 4, 2021 against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round. And to make matters worse, the Golden Knights are without key offensive weapons.
Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty are on injured reserve. Alec Martinez is out of the lineup. Nolan Patrick missed Sunday’s game against the Islanders with an upper-body injury. And Alex Tuch probably won’t be available until sometime in 2022.
Lack of power-play production cost the Golden Knights in last season’s playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. And it’s a big reason why the team has started the 2021-22 campaign with a 1-4-0 record. Teams simply cannot expect to win games with a futile power play.
Even with Stone and Pacioretty out of the lineup, the Golden Knights have players capable of scoring. ‘The Misfits Line’ of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith have combined for 56 regular-season power play tallies since the Golden Knights’ inception in 2017.
Defenseman Shea Theodore has racked up 49 points on the power play as a Golden Knight. Alex Pietrangelo spent almost a decade with the St. Louis Blues patrolling the blue line with the man advantage.
So what’s wrong in Vegas?
More than anything, I don’t think the Golden Knights are moving the puck fast enough with players in motion. The key to scoring on the power play is creating lanes and presenting trade-offs for the defense. Making them decide who to cover and who to leave open.
Right now, that’s not Vegas. The Golden Knights are predictable. They’re deliberate. And they’re not using the flanks as effectively as other NHL teams.
From a goaltender’s perspective, it always made me nervous when I didn’t know where the shot was going to come from. It would happen when I played against the Capitals: I knew Alex Ovechkin was the primary trigger man. But I also had to worry about John Carlson drilling a one-timer by my ear with TJ Oshie standing in front. That’s without even mentioning how silky of a passer Nicklas Backstrom is.
The Golden Knights may not have an elite puck distributor like Backstrom, but they do have shot options. Jonathan Marchessault can hammer the puck. So can Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore. Evgenii Dadonov was brought in to shoot. And shoot often.
So far this season Dadonov has two shots on the power play, both coming from well outside. Below is a chart of where all 20 of his power-play goals have come from dating back to the 2017-18 season.
Dadonov is able to score multiple ways on the power play. He’s dangerous on the rush and can tip point shots. He can bury quick passing plays. But the Golden Knights have yet to find a way to get him the puck in the slot area. He needs to be unlocked.
One player that has been able to find middle ice is Jonathan Marchessault. But he’s not hitting the net. Every “x” on the image below represents a shot going wide.
Marchessault has missed the net five times from the stationary high slot area. That can’t happen. He’s been successful there previously tipping pucks and corralling loose rebounds. But the positioning is an interesting choice for Marchessault.
I’d argue Marchessault is most effective on the flanks. Look at his goal map since coming to the Golden Knights.
When playing the left side, he can bomb the one-timer.
On the right side, Marchessault excels when his skates are going downhill towards the net. He’s got a quick release and is able to use defenders as a screen, like this example against the Ottawa Senators.
Skating at the net, receiving the puck in motion: that’s missing from the Vegas power play right now, especially with Max Pacioretty out of the lineup. He can beat a goalie clean with his snapshot. And he’s great on the flank.
Teams around the league are using the strategy. I recently wrote about how the Senators – in particular Connor Brown – are finding success by skating downhill.
It’s something Alex Pietrangelo has done well previously in his career with the St. Louis Blues.
At times Pietrangelo has been active on the power play with the Golden Knights, moving up and down the walls and attacking the net when necessary. But so far this season he only has two power-play shots on goal with the man advantage.
It’s not just Dadonov, Marchessault and Pietrangelo that need to get going. William Karlsson has been virtually non-existent on the power play and Chandler Stephenson hasn’t been much better.
The bright spot for the Golden Knights has been Reilly Smith. He leads the team with five power-play shots and several of them have been high danger chances in front of the net.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like: the Golden Knights need a power-play goal. And to get it done, they need to snap the puck around with bodies in motion. Find lanes. Skate towards the net. And blast away from the flanks.
The post McKenna: What’s Wrong With The Vegas Golden Knights’ Power Play? appeared first on Daily Faceoff.