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Optimizing the Devils' PP

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10-24-2012, 01:05 PM
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Optimizing the Devils' PP

I don't think there's enough emphasis put on the skills that are necessary for a good PP. There is a tendency to just look at the players with the best box car stats and automatically assume they're the best powerplay options. The more one looks at PP production, though, the more it becomes obvious that certain players are much better scoring on the PP than others, even if they might be worse at even strength.

Here are the last three years of PP stats for NJ, limited to players who averaged at least 1min of PP time per game (not sure why the TOI isn't in seconds but rather out of 100, but it still gives the general idea).


Code:
	2011-2012							
	 NAME	       POS	GP   TOI/60	G/60	A1/60	A2/60	P/60
1	PATRIKELIAS	LW	81	3.26	1.59	1.59	2.05	5.23
2	ILYAKOVALCHUK	RW	77	4.72	1.49	1.65	0.83	3.97
3	ADAMHENRIQUE	C	74	1.64	0.00	1.98	1.98	3.96
4	ALEXEIPONI	        LW	82	1.32	2.22	0.55	1.11	3.88
5	DAVIDCLARKSON	RW	80	2.98	1.51	1.26	0.76	3.53
6	ZACHPARISE	LW	82	3.23	1.36	1.36	0.23	2.94
7	MAREKZIDLICKY	D	63	3.32	0.57	0.86	0.86	2.30
8	DAINIUSZUBRUS	C	82	1.75	1.67	0.00	0.42	2.09
9	PETRSYKORA	RW	82	1.91	1.53	0.38	0.00	1.92
10	ADAMLARSSON	D	65	1.62	0.00	1.14	0.57	1.71
11	MARKFAYNE  	D	82	1.50	0.00	0.00	0.98	0.98
								
	2010-2011							
	NAME	               POS	GP   TOI/60	G/60	A1/60	A2/60	P/60
1	PATRIKELIAS	LW	81	2.57	1.73	0.29	1.73	3.74
2	ANDYGREENE	D	82	1.27	0.57	1.72	1.15	3.45
3	ILYAKOVALCHUK	RW	81	3.99	1.11	1.30	0.37	2.79
4	MATTIASTEDENB	LW	58	1.86	1.11	1.11	0.56	2.78
5	BRIANROLSTON	C	65	2.36	1.96	0.39	0.39	2.74
6	TRAVISZAJAC	C	82	2.45	0.00	1.20	0.90	2.09
7	DAINIUSZUBRUS	C	79	2.32	0.33	0.65	0.00	0.98
8	DAVIDCLARKSON	RW	82	1.64	0.45	0.00	0.45	0.89
								
	2009-2010							
	NAME	POS	                GP  TOI/60	G/60	A1/60	A2/60	P/60
1	ZACHPARISE	LW	81	2.87	2.32	2.58	1.03	5.93
2	JAMIELANGENBR	RW	81	2.75	1.62	1.35	2.16	5.13
3	TRAVISZAJAC	C	82	2.66	1.37	1.92	1.65	4.94
4	ANDYGREENE	D	78	2.55	1.21	0.91	2.42	4.53
5	ILYAKOVALCHUK	RW	76	5.25	1.65	1.20	1.05	3.91
6	BRIANROLSTON	C	80	2.23	2.35	0.34	1.01	3.70
7	PATRIKELIAS	LW	58	2.47	0.42	2.51	0.42	3.35
8	DAVIDCLARKSON	RW	46	2.29	1.14	1.14	0.57	2.84
9	VLADIMIRZHARKO	RW	40	1.26	0.00	1.19	1.19	2.38
10	DAINIUSZUBRUS	C	51	1.92	0.61	0.61	0.61	1.83
We should always be cautious with yearly special teams statistics since they are highly volatile, however let's see if we can notice some three year trends.

THE BAD:
First thing that sticks out is Dainius Zubrus. Worst PP forward in 09-10, and second worst PP forward in 10-11 and 11-12. If we look at how Zubrus plays, this might make sense. He's not a cerebral player that relies on vision and quick decision making (very important on the PP), but rather he is great cycling and battling for possession. The fact that Zubrus got more PP time than Henrique looks pretty foolish.

Andy Greene, or rather his absence from the 11-12 list. Our best PP defenseman in 09-10 and 10-11, only to take a back seat to Mark Fayne in 11-12? Greene did not meet the 1MIN/game cut off in 11-12, but he still posted a a 2.44 P/60, which was better than all our other defenseman. Why does DeBoer insist on Mark Fayne when Greene has the track record to be serviceable on the PP?

THE GOOD:
Patrik Elias looks to be our best PP weapon, along with Ilya Kovalchuk. Elias has tremendous vision and patience, which makes him a great asset on the PP. Kovalchuk's per 60 stats are especially impressive given how much PP time he gets (most in the league by far). That's an extra minute of ice time on the PP where we're not exposed to Mark Fayne's, or another defenseman's, production.

The Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner PP unit from 09-10 looked utterly dominant.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PP lines I'd like to see:


Kovalchuk - Zajac - Elias
Zidlicky - Greene


XXX - Henrique - Clarkson
Kovalchuk - Larsson

I want the XXX to be Kristian Huselius. In 10-11, Huselius posted a 4.25 P/60 on the PP, and a 4.98 P/60 in 09-10. The Devils need someone else with creativity and playmaking ability.

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10-24-2012, 01:16 PM
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Players aside, simply put the PP needs more puck movement - under Oates there was too much holding on to the puck, looking for the perfect pass and it gave opposing teams ample time to read and intercept passes

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10-24-2012, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingman77 View Post
Players aside, simply put the PP needs more puck movement - under Oates there was too much holding on to the puck, looking for the perfect pass and it gave opposing teams ample time to read and intercept passes
I don't think the Devils had the personnel for good puck movement on the PP. Clarkson, Zubrus, Ponikarovsky, even Parise, are not ideally suited for that.

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10-24-2012, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
I don't think the Devils had the personnel for good puck movement on the PP. Clarkson, Zubrus, Ponikarovsky, even Parise, are not ideally suited for that.
Eh, wouldn't say that so much because Clarkson especially is fantastic along the boards - often he wins corner/boards battles and we all know he loves passing up to the point, Zubrus is similar to Clarkson in those areas thanks largely to his size/strength

Elias and Kovy are great puck movers, having Zajac back full time and Zidlicky adds other good puck movers that you can trust passing and not fumbling passes to them

Parise was an in front of the net and behind goal line guy often retrieving others shots and Poni was so-so at moving it

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10-24-2012, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingman77 View Post
Eh, wouldn't say that so much because Clarkson especially is fantastic along the boards - often he wins corner/boards battles and we all know he loves passing up to the point, Zubrus is similar to Clarkson in those areas thanks largely to his size/strength

Elias and Kovy are great puck movers, having Zajac back full time and Zidlicky adds other good puck movers that you can trust passing and not fumbling passes to them

Parise was an in front of the net and behind goal line guy often retrieving others shots and Poni was so-so at moving it
Winning battles along the boards isn't nearly as important on the PP. When you lose control of the puck, it's typically down the ice in two seconds. So that skill from Clarkson and Zubrus is pretty mitigated. What is important on the PP is sure-handedness, anticipation, and vision, which is why Elias and Kovalchuk are so good.

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10-24-2012, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
Winning battles along the boards isn't nearly as important on the PP. When you lose control of the puck, it's typically down the ice in two seconds. So that skill from Clarkson and Zubrus is pretty mitigated. What is important on the PP is sure-handedness, anticipation, and vision, which is why Elias and Kovalchuk are so good.
With our PP though, there were unfortunately plenty of board battles , but you'll still see some, albeit less on the PP and guys like Clarkson and Zubrus down low help out

Henrique can move the puck pretty good as well so I wouldn't mind seeing him on the half boards on the right and Zubrus or Clarkson being down low/in front of the net (not on the same unit necessarily)

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10-24-2012, 01:56 PM
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I agree. I would like to see Greene on the PP too. Best PP I can remember having since Fetisov ran things was 09/10. We probably fell to league average, but that coincided with our collapse in the second half that season. Not sure who ran things then? Tremblay? Albelin? Greene was fantastic on the PP that year.

The Maclean, and Oates PP's have been utterly atrocious. Hopefully having a guy like Shaw who ran a top 2/3 PP the last couple years in San Jose changes that. And gives him the opportunity to have control over things he sees as working better on the PP. Whether it's Kovy at the point, or Greene on the PP over Fayne, etc. I really won't miss monkey man plastic surgery disaster Oates at all. The PP during the SCF was flat out EMBARRASSING to say the least. So bad I was happy when we would get a penalty, and wash out a 5 on 3, or 4 minute double minor. There was also a while early in the season where we scored more shorthanded goals than PP goals, and I'm sure we all remember the two month long every two or three game shorty fest costing us wins, and being the difference in games.

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10-24-2012, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingman77 View Post
With our PP though, there were unfortunately plenty of board battles , but you'll still see some, albeit less on the PP and guys like Clarkson and Zubrus down low help out

Henrique can move the puck pretty good as well so I wouldn't mind seeing him on the half boards on the right and Zubrus or Clarkson being down low/in front of the net (not on the same unit necessarily)
Right, so the aim is to have less board battles and more control of the puck.

Also, I will throw my remote if I see Clarkson taking faceoffs again.

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10-24-2012, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
Right, so the aim is to have less board battles and more control of the puck.

Also, I will throw my remote if I see Clarkson taking faceoffs again.
I feel like I've complained about this endlessly, it never made sense having Zajac, Henrique, or Zubrus on the ice along with Clarkson yet Clarkson was taking faceoffs - and in many instances, 2 of those guys were on the ice at the same time

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10-24-2012, 02:00 PM
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Zajac should definitely take faceoffs if he's on the ice during a PP. Clarkson, and Elias taking faceoffs on the PP when Zajac was on the ice made me bust my head open from banging it on a wall so much.

Though Patty's faceoff win did help us score the game winner in the comeback against the Isles in the last minute!

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10-24-2012, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
Andy Greene, or rather his absence from the 11-12 list. Our best PP defenseman in 09-10 and 10-11, only to take a back seat to Mark Fayne in 11-12? Greene did not meet the 1MIN/game cut off in 11-12, but he still posted a a 2.44 P/60, which was better than all our other defenseman. Why does DeBoer insist on Mark Fayne when Greene has the track record to be serviceable on the PP?
I can answer this question, I think, although it's not clear the answer is a good one. It's because Fayne is a RH shot while Greene is a LH shot, and DeBoer (Oates?) likes having a RH shot on the right point on the PP.

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10-24-2012, 02:04 PM
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I think we're gonna need our PP more this year than last year. Losing a lot of our scoring from Parise, and Sykora to begin with. I don't see our PK being as good when this season starts. Hopefully top 10 though. I also don't see us scoring all the shorties we scored last year. So we're gonna need what we did on the PP last year + make up the difference in the shorties we scored.

I don't wanna get started on the PK, but I have a question for you all. I remember many people in the GDT's, and post game threads while we were giving up shorties saying the reason our PP sucks, is because the forwards are burned out on the PK. Almost all the forwards used on the PK minus Clarkson and Sykora, were used on the PP.

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10-24-2012, 02:09 PM
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I will say this, I don't like the umbrella format. It's too predictable and too stagnant. We have the people to make a PP work, especially the first unit.

Shaw's PPs have been tops in the league in the last three years years in shots, which will help.

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10-24-2012, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
THE BAD:
First thing that sticks out is Dainius Zubrus. Worst PP forward in 09-10, and second worst PP forward in 10-11 and 11-12. If we look at how Zubrus plays, this might make sense. He's not a cerebral player that relies on vision and quick decision making (very important on the PP), but rather he is great cycling and battling for possession. The fact that Zubrus got more PP time than Henrique looks pretty foolish.

Andy Greene, or rather his absence from the 11-12 list. Our best PP defenseman in 09-10 and 10-11, only to take a back seat to Mark Fayne in 11-12? Greene did not meet the 1MIN/game cut off in 11-12, but he still posted a a 2.44 P/60, which was better than all our other defenseman. Why does DeBoer insist on Mark Fayne when Greene has the track record to be serviceable on the PP?

THE GOOD:
Patrik Elias looks to be our best PP weapon, along with Ilya Kovalchuk. Elias has tremendous vision and patience, which makes him a great asset on the PP. Kovalchuk's per 60 stats are especially impressive given how much PP time he gets (most in the league by far). That's an extra minute of ice time on the PP where we're not exposed to Mark Fayne's, or another defenseman's, production.

The Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner PP unit from 09-10 looked utterly dominant.
Zubrus's numbers are really misleading. His worth is far beyond his point totals and everyone knows that. When he's on the PP, he's primarily being used as a screen and the Devils are not a team that really ever shoots for deflections. His big frame and ability to aggravate the goaltender are why he's out there.

Also, Greene was out on the PP in 09-10 because (A) we didn't have Kovalchuk yet and (B) our D was awful and our best guy was on IR. I wouldn't be opposed to giving him another chance but I'd be willing to bet DeBoer prefers a RH shot. There's not much of a need for a lefty out there with our current setup, unless he has a solid one timer, which Greene does not. I'd like to see Larsson out there, personally.

No surprise Elias and Kovy top the list. Elias pretty much runs the PP and Kovy is always the focal point.

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10-24-2012, 02:15 PM
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I have no chart or anything to add to my last post. Though if anyone remember's our solid run after ASB, it seemed like we scored on the PP almost every game for those two weeks. While we weren't giving up PP goals to the opposition like candy, the PK numbers did slide a little bit. We probably gave up more PP goals that stretch than any other part during the season(Playoffs not included) We were the best team in the league on the PP for like the first 2 or 3 weeks after the all star break. However we definitely were not first on the PK in that time span. Maybe all the way down to top 10.

So does this show our forwards are being burnt out on the PK to some extent? And that it was causing our PP to not be as good? Kovy, Patty, Parise, Zubrus, Henrique, Zajac, all forwards who got PK time, that also got PP time. And Kovy was usually out for the duration of the PK, and PP. The full two minutes if nobody scored.

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10-24-2012, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apice3 View Post
Zubrus's numbers are really misleading. His worth is far beyond his point totals and everyone knows that. When he's on the PP, he's primarily being used as a screen and the Devils are not a team that really ever shoots for deflections. His big frame and ability to aggravate the goaltender are why he's out there.

Also, Greene was out on the PP in 09-10 because (A) we didn't have Kovalchuk yet and (B) our D was awful and our best guy was on IR. I wouldn't be opposed to giving him another chance but I'd be willing to bet DeBoer prefers a RH shot. There's not much of a need for a lefty out there with our current setup, unless he has a solid one timer, which Greene does not. I'd like to see Larsson out there, personally.

No surprise Elias and Kovy top the list. Elias pretty much runs the PP and Kovy is always the focal point.
I can buy the "big body" argument at even strength. Creating space and working the boards is important. But if you're going to be on the powerplay you need to produce points.

But anyway, we can easily settle this by looking at the Devils' ability to score goals while Zubrus is on the ice on the PP:

Team Goals For / 60 Minutes of Ice Time (Rank among Devils' forwards who avg. at least 1min. of PP time):
11-12: 8th
10-11: 4th
09-10: 6th
08-09: 7th
07-08: 6th

So if Zubrus' screening the goalie and creating space game is valuable on the PP, why aren't the Devils scoring when he's on the ice? Is it just for show?

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10-24-2012, 02:47 PM
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I think making new PK units would maximize the PP's potential. Zajac, Elias, Henrique, they're good PKer's who could go the PP also. I would minimize Kovy's PK time as much as we love seeing him skate up the ice on a shorthanded break. Maybe give Zubrus PK time. He can play both. I would like to minimize the forwards who play both though. Patty, and Trav have always played on both throughout the years.

I'd love to see Josefson on the PK, Carter, Bernier, maybe even Gionta, that sounds pretty solid right there. At least try it out. Josefson can win faceoffs too which was a problem we had on the PK in the playoffs. Kovy, Patty, Trav, and Henrique can get more PP time. I'm not trying to change this subject to about the PK, but I think there might be a problem with too many forwards playing both. It wasn't the whole problem, but I can see the parallels.

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10-24-2012, 02:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
I can buy the "big body" argument at even strength. Creating space and working the boards is important. But if you're going to be on the powerplay you need to produce points.

But anyway, we can easily settle this by looking at the Devils' ability to score goals while Zubrus is on the ice on the PP:

Team Goals For / 60 Minutes of Ice Time (Rank among Devils' forwards who avg. at least 1min. of PP time):
11-12: 8th
10-11: 4th
09-10: 6th
08-09: 7th
07-08: 6th

So if Zubrus' screening the goalie and creating space game is valuable on the PP, why aren't the Devils scoring when he's on the ice? Is it just for show?
Probably because he'd be on the 2nd unit each year. Those rankings are pretty much right where I'd expect them to be, honestly. Figure 3-4 forwards per unit, Zubrus would be somewhere between 4th and 8th every year.

What are the team goal totals at even strength when he's on the ice? I'd imagine, again, he'd be ranked around 6th or so (fringe 2nd/3rd liner numbers), aside from his stretch with Zajac and Parise.

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10-24-2012, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
Andy Greene, or rather his absence from the 11-12 list. Our best PP defenseman in 09-10 and 10-11, only to take a back seat to Mark Fayne in 11-12? Greene did not meet the 1MIN/game cut off in 11-12, but he still posted a a 2.44 P/60, which was better than all our other defenseman. Why does DeBoer insist on Mark Fayne when Greene has the track record to be serviceable on the PP?
If I recall correctly, Greene getting replaced was due to Oates's insistence that the lone defenceman on the PP unit be right handed. This is because a right handed defenceman would be able to handle pucks coming back along the right side boards better than a lefty could. His ability to pass across to Kovalchuk for the one timer would be smoother as well, and he could also take one timers off a pass from Patty on the half boards.

However, I don't entirely agree with that logic, and I also thought it was silly to leave Greene off the PP, because he was a 37 point defenceman once and probably could be again if he was given more PP time. With that offensive instinct being suppressed, Greene has shifted to becoming more of a shutdown defenceman on his pairing with Fayne. And he's good at that, but I think he could be used better in a more offensive role.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Feed Me A Stray Cat View Post
Also, I will throw my remote if I see Clarkson taking faceoffs again.
Same here. He must have had the worst faceoff percentage in the league, but they still kept trying it. I don't care if it's easier for a right handed forward to take draws backhanded, I don't care if it's better for the crease man to take draws because of the way the unit sets up its formation coming out of a faceoff tie up, it makes no sense to have a winger taking the draw unless forced to. Better to have Elias, Josefson, Zajac, Henrique, or damn near anybody else on the team take it instead.

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10-24-2012, 03:13 PM
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I'd rather have a lefty win a faceoff than a righty lose. Clarkson won his first like 7 faceoffs or something and I don't think he won more than 5 the rest of the year. At least that's how it seemed.

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10-24-2012, 03:17 PM
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First I'd like to get some NHL hockey, then I'd start to worry about the performance of the team.

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10-24-2012, 03:25 PM
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I can't believe how often Clarkson was used on the PP. I get it that Pete wanted a righty taking the faceoff, but what does it matter if you lose most of them?

Also, I really want some movement on the PP, that's really all I ask for.

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10-24-2012, 03:34 PM
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I want Clarkson on the PP. I just don't want him taking faceoffs. He's one of the only forwards that played PP last year, and not on the PK. Plus he scores the garbage goals, and is the king of deflecting with body parts!

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10-24-2012, 03:40 PM
  #24
HeliDevil
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Woops I meant as center on the PP.

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10-24-2012, 03:57 PM
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Clarkson, as I remember, was used basically only for his presence in front of the net, and he was good at it, no?

I like Zubrus a lot, but his strengths does not play out in PP.

Also, I saw Kovy holding on to the puck for too long quite often. That's not only because he tends to do that, but also because there was not enough movement.

If we could clone Elias, things would be much better.

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