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8/11/10 - Which is more important this season, improving PP or PK?

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08-11-2010, 07:16 AM
  #1
Seth Lake
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8/11/10 - Which is more important this season, improving PP or PK?

Straight forward, I know the debate has popped up several times in threads this summer, but...

Which do you believe is more important to the team success this season, improving the power play or the penalty kill?

Today's music for your listening pleasure is a bit of a softer melody to help get your day started off right and possibly bring a smile to your face as you step out into the real world. From Simon & Garfunkel here's, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M."



In what has probably been the most inconsistent part of our game since the team's inception, the power play last year got off to a miserable start, found itself among the top of the league during the middle portion of the season, but then fell cold again as the season came to a close. In the playoffs, the power play was non-existent and served as more of an advantage to Chicago by changing/building momentum with a good kill, than it did for us due to the lack of finish and frustration built as the time seemed to just tick away on our season.

During the regular season the team finished the year scoring 47 goals in 286 PP attempts for a 16.4% conversion rate that ranked them 26th in the league (only Phoenix at 14.6% was lower among teams making the playoffs). The power play was better at home (18th, 26/141, 18.4%) than it was on the road (22nd, 21/145, 14.5%) during the regular season, but was abysmal in the playoffs going 1 for 27 en route to a first-round exit.

This summer the team has made some drastic personnel changes that I believe will help attack some of the biggest areas of weakness the power play experienced last year, the first being trading away Jason Arnott and bringing in Matthew Lombardi. With this move, the team has lost a big shot, but has gained so much more with Lombardi's speed and faceoff abilities. With Colin Wilson also likely seeing more time at center on the PP, winning the opening draw on each power play is a critical component to the success of the PP. Additionally, now due to the skating ability and playing style of Lombardi, we will see less stagnation in our power play offense where Arnott was a set and shoot type of player, we will see Lombardi, Wilson, Kostitsyn, and others move around the offensive zone attacking seams in the defense and making the defense move to defend...effectively opening up seams.

There are other reasons for optimism that I'm going to leave out, but I think you get the drift. I believe the personnel is much better suited this season to attack on the power play than they have been the past couple years when the team simply tried to run set plays and forced too many passes through the defense due to the lack of movement.

Onto the PK...

In the 2008-09 season, the Predators penalty-killing unit was again a top-10 unit in the league finishing the year with an 82.5% success rate. However, as Coach Trotz said during the Skate of the Union address last month, there was a large turnover of key PK personnel (Nichol, Fiddler, Zanon, deVries) over the summer and last year's team failed to buy in and make the PK their own winding up with a horrid 77.1% success rate and dropping to the 28th ranked unit in the league.

Now, what was the biggest difference between the two seasons outside of the personnel? It was the success rate of our PK at home. In the 2008-09 season, the Predators killed penalties at home with a success rate of 88.7% which was 2nd best in the whole league and raised the overall percentage up to 10th best. Penalty killing on the road hasn't changed 77.7% (27th) in 2008-09 vs. 74.5% (28th) last year.

Why the change? I think it has to do with the loss of three of our best faceoff men, who were also some of our greatest role players, more than anything. Without Nichol, Fiddler, and Bonk being available to take the opening faceoff and get an early clear when at home, we effectively spent more time in our zone and far too often immediately gave the opposition possession of the puck deep in our offensive zone.

Can this be changed? I think it can and will be through the internal competition for every roster spot being so important this season. If guys want ice time, the coaching staff will be sure to dangle the PK in front of them and if they are successful there, they will get rewarded elsewhere...just look at how Fiddler and Nichol were utilized on higher lines from time to time when opportunities presented themselves.

So there's a little something to think about. Will improving the PP or the PK be more crucial to our success this season?

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08-11-2010, 07:51 AM
  #2
David Singleton
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For the style employed by this team, improving the PK is the most important of the two for continued post season play. Fortunately, it should be the easier of the two given the fact that it's a traditional strength of the team and that there are still very good PK players on the team.

All that said, for a deeper run into the playoffs, improvement in the PP might be more important. Scoring opportunities are fewer and more precious (not to go all LOTR or anything) in the playoffs and a very good PP is a huge key to success. This can be seen both by the Predator's inability to convert opportunities as well as past opponent's abilities to convert at a rate acceptable for even the Predator's good PK units. Unfortunately, improving the PP is likely the harder of the two given the fact that it's never been a strong point for the team (and by extension, the coaching staff) previously.

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08-11-2010, 08:24 AM
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BigFatCat999
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Seth, regulate you sleep patterns. Secondly, which do we expect to see a lot more of PK situations or PP? Last year, we saw more PP situations. It's a matter of asset management and situational compromise.

The PP was 24%, the PK was 28%. Nashville was 26th in PP opportunity and 29th in PK opportunities.

If the PP sucks and the PK sucks just keep the game clean.

I say PP. More opportunities and you can control how many times you are on the PK IF you can keep the game clean.

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08-11-2010, 08:26 AM
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101st_fan
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The PK. As much as we gripe about the PP it performed decently for the middle 3/4 of the season. The same can't be said for the PK. It languished near the bottom of the league for the entire season and other than a short streak coming out of the break, it sucked.

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08-11-2010, 09:29 AM
  #5
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Penalty Kill----but I would pick a strong PK over a strong PP no matter what the situation or team.

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08-11-2010, 11:45 AM
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Both units need to be better if this team is ever going to make it past the first round. I will never forget the goal Kane scored shorthanded against our useless PP when Erat coughed up the puck behind the net and Ward stood around and let Kane sneak in behind him for a tap-in. That goal DESTROYED the teams morale (not to mention mine) and at that point they lost beleif in themselves. Just goes to show you how important special teams play is in hockey, especially in the playoffs.

I think the #1 thing this team can do to adress both of these areas is to work on our face-off success rate. Like u said Slake Lombardi will help a little and hopefully Wilson will get a chance to show us what he's got but more that anything I think Legwand should have his facoffs taken numbers decreased drastically. Love the guy but let's face it there's no role for a C who consistently averages 45% in the dot playing both PP and PK. Maybe play him at wing on special teams which I'm sure he's done from time to time. I think it's about time for the coaches to realize he's never gonna be able to win at a rate that benefits these units.

One last thing...of course it's yet to be seen if he can pull it off at a professional level but Blake Geoffrion may have been one of the best face-off guys in all of college hockey last year, especially in there run to the championship game. I remember keeping tabs on him in the tournament and I kid u not he would single-handedly win at least 20 draws a game. Now of course he was given every opportunity but that's exactly my point. Look how far having a guy who can win the key draws can take you. Oh, and the guy just happens to have a knack for killing penalties and was among league leaders in PP goals. I will be keeping a close eye on Blake in Milwaukee to see if these abilities translate and I hope he gets every opportunity to improve in these areas and just maybe be ready later on in the year to come up and help this team with a very underrated and much needed facet of the game.

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08-11-2010, 12:27 PM
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Power Play.

I've read many good points so far. My favorite so far is that you can theoretically control how many times you go on the PK. If guys keep their heads then for the most part that is true. Does the PK need to improve, yes. I think the competition in camp along with our depth this season will squash that problem fairly quickly. We have alot of solid two-way guys and alot more speed this season. Both will help.

I think the improvement needs to come on the PP. Going on the powerplay last year was essantially no more than two minutes of the other team not scoring (and that didn't always work out). PPs are suppost to give you confidence that your team has opportunity to take the lead, tie the game or climb out of the hole. Our guys stood around, forced passes that weren't there and lost battles for the puck. Our new faces should help fix this to a degree. A consistent PP will take this team deep into the playoffs. With the two way depth, Weber and Suter fronting the blueline and Rinne as the #1 our defense will be fine. We need the offense to match.

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08-11-2010, 12:55 PM
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A PP that is able to score clutch goals when they are really needed. A PP that digs down deep and gets the job done.

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08-11-2010, 01:27 PM
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triggrman
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PP.

If the powerplay is better and the pk is the same we're ok. We have way to much talent on the points to not have an effecient powerplay.

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08-11-2010, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 101st_fan View Post
The PK. As much as we gripe about the PP it performed decently for the middle 3/4 of the season. The same can't be said for the PK. It languished near the bottom of the league for the entire season and other than a short streak coming out of the break, it sucked.
QFMFT

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08-11-2010, 01:37 PM
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I gotta go with PP. I just can't see a Trotz coached team with an ineffective PK for 2 consecutive seasons (at this point, especially with a team he has "molded"). I also think that a PP that the other team respects will slightly impact the way the other team plays against you, can't say that for a PK, I don't think. A team that's afraid of taking a stupid penalty against an elite PP doesn't seem to take as many liberties or make as many reckless plays. This could be a reason that DET has had a good bit of player longevity, of course that could just be happenstance.

A mobile, imaginative, and effective PP combined with a solid (doesn't have to be spectacular, even) PK and this team should be set, if we consider Rinne's performance to this point the standard, and not an anomaly.

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08-11-2010, 01:48 PM
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PredsV82
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well, the better one gets, the more we can afford to stay lower in the other.

obviously ideally the PK and PP both improve... but if ither one gets substantially better, we'll do better even if the other one doesnt...

to put it numerically, i think we need for the sum of our PP rank and our PK rank to total no more than 30... if we become a top 10 PK team we only need to get up to about 20th best on the PP, or if we can be middle of the pack on both, etc...


Last edited by PredsV82: 08-11-2010 at 02:16 PM. Reason: clarification
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08-11-2010, 03:14 PM
  #13
predfan98
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I think for confidence building in the team..........the pp has to be better. I think otherwise it's an albatross around the neck.

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08-11-2010, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PredsV82 View Post
well, the better one gets, the more we can afford to stay lower in the other.

obviously ideally the PK and PP both improve... but if ither one gets substantially better, we'll do better even if the other one doesnt...

to put it numerically, i think we need for the sum of our PP rank and our PK rank to total no more than 30... if we become a top 10 PK team we only need to get up to about 20th best on the PP, or if we can be middle of the pack on both, etc...
I agree. Ideally, both need to improve. But IMO the PK needs to improve more than the PP. A top 10 PK and top 20 PP is exactly what I had in mind.

Although, you know that famous Bowman quote... to be a cup contender your PP + PK ranks should be no more than 10 (or something like that )

PP definitely needs to be improved though, considering we don't usually get many opportunities. But the thing is, improving the PP is much much harder given the talent we have. Obtaining a lethal top 10 PP just isn't very realistic in my mind. Getting a top 10 PK is definitely obtainable though.

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08-11-2010, 04:35 PM
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PK for success during the season, PP for success in the POs - how's that for hedging? I just don't think fixing one without improvement in the other is gonna' help that much. I'm sure someone can pull out a stat that says this is wrong, but it doesn't seem like teams that have bottom 5 special team play are gonna' be successful in the POs.

So, big focused increase in getting the PK back to a more traditional Preds strength and at least a small improvement in the PP that gives us an actual 2min advantage, rather than a 2min rest from playing our best D.

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08-11-2010, 07:10 PM
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The Preds spent the least time per game on the PK and yet were 19th in PK goals allowed.

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08-11-2010, 08:44 PM
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Some great food for thought here, guys. I really welcome the opportunity to think about things like this right now due to some clutter in my family situation.

I think this team needs to hover around top 10-12 in PK and top 15 in PP to be successful. The timeleness of those PP goals is far more important than how many there are when it all boils down to it. They have to come at the right times. When you are down by 3 goals and get a Mary Kay call, I mean, who freakin' cares? They need to be game changing special teams goals (both shorties and PP goals). We also need them spread around so not just one guy is key here in case of injury (see Hornqvist, Patric, 2009-2010), needs to be a team effort.

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08-11-2010, 10:39 PM
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I want to see a PP that actually scores instead one that stands around passing or holding the puck till they cough it up to the other team for an easy clear. That being said, I think it will be easier to improve the PK. How many weak clears did we see last year? A ton and that has got to change.

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08-12-2010, 11:48 AM
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I think improving the PP is more important for a few reasons:

1) We need to generate offense when presented with man-advantage situations in order to make up for the lack of any bona fide goal scorers in the lineup. The changes to the lineup will likely result in marginal improvement, at best, for our ES scoring, so it will be critical that we improve on the PP in order to increase our goal output.

2) Lack of success on the PP can have detrimental side effects in other areas of the game. When the PP can't convert, players start to lose confidence, or may start pressing in other situations because they are desperate for goals. The goalie might start to feel more pressure because he thinks he can't allow any goals with our lack of offensive output. This leads to poor play in other areas, which can spiral into a bigger issue for the team. Giving up a goal on the PK sucks - but it's not as demoralizing as repeatedly failing to cash in on PP opportunites.

3) If opponents don't perceive our PP as a legitimate scoring threat, then they are going to take more liberties and be more aggressive against our players. Taking a penalty is of no real consequence (just a bit of lost ES time) if the other team can't score on the PP.

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08-12-2010, 12:39 PM
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PP. That is what killed us last year in the playoffs. Getting 2 more goals in that series probably gives us a win. No guarantee but I would've liked our chances much better. The PP did not do well the last 3/4 of the season. Look at the stats again 101 and you'll see it was that great. We had about 4 ten game stretches last year where the PP was good and 4 ten game stretches that were horrible. Even Trotz said so at the SOTU. It needs to be on for about 60 of the 82 games. That would've either given us a higher seeding or allowed us to beat Chicago.

We cleaned up our act as far as taking penalties last year so I'm fine with the PK for now. It's not great but it didn't kill us nearly as much as the PP did.

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08-12-2010, 05:24 PM
  #21
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PP. That is what killed us last year in the playoffs. Getting 2 more goals in that series probably gives us a win. No guarantee but I would've liked our chances much better. The PP did not do well the last 3/4 of the season. Look at the stats again 101 and you'll see it was that great. We had about 4 ten game stretches last year where the PP was good and 4 ten game stretches that were horrible. Even Trotz said so at the SOTU. It needs to be on for about 60 of the 82 games. That would've either given us a higher seeding or allowed us to beat Chicago.

We cleaned up our act as far as taking penalties last year so I'm fine with the PK for now. It's not great but it didn't kill us nearly as much as the PP did.
I've gotten through the midpoint of the season with the analysis. After 41 games the Preds overall conversion rate was below where it finished the season as was the goals/60 5v4 time. The team had 3 or fewer PP opportunities 21 times in the first half of the season. Your comparison counts a 1 PP game the same as a 6 PP game.

The Preds spent the least time on the PK on average in the league but were 19th in PK goals allowed. (ok t-17th, but, the teams we tied with allowed the same # of goals in a greater amount of time) It does no good to have the least time on the PK when your PK is 4th worst in the league in allowing 4v5 goals based on time. Nearly 1 of every 4 PK chances ended in an opposition goal.

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