Monday, January 25, 2010

"Shoot The Puck" - not really the answer...

OK, if you're one of these people, I apologize in advance. We're all entitled to our opinions. Some of us just blog about it. Yes, this Cyclones' power play is frustratingly anemic, 18th out of 20 in the league, at 15.5%. For a high-power, skill team, especially, that is bad.

During the power play, I always hear people in the crowd screaming "SHOOT IT!" or "Shoot the puck!!." That really isn't the strategy on the power play. They don't want a mass of shots, they want a few quality shots and then hopefully a goal. Yes, it's frustrating, but that is the best strategy.

Penalty kill systems have gotten better and better, and so has goaltending - particularly since the advent of the "Butterfly" style. The defenders choke the shooting lanes and good goalies produce like the extra man. What you don't want is taking a bad shot, having it bounce off a defender's shin pads, and giving up a breakaway for the shorthanded team.

Take a good look at the puck and whether or not there is actually a lane through to the goalie. Usually, there is not because of that choke factor I mentioned. They keep the puck moving, trying to lure a defender out of position and catch the goalie having to move laterally (at the same time). That's when power play goals happen.

And believe it or not, the 5-on-3 is not a guarantee of a goal. The defenders just collapse in to a tight triangle in the slot and really choke the lanes. They let the power play team move the puck all they want around the outside, but simply never leave the slot unless they are sure they have a chance to clear the puck.

So, yes I admit it is frustrating. And maybe in the closing 20-25 seconds of the power play they should just shoot it & see what happens. But by and large, that is not the best strategy. Like I said, watch the shooting lanes during a power play, see if you notice how there is rarely a clear path to the goal.

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