Photo: Patrick Smith
Previously, I looked at the Caps power-play zone entries.
From a team perspective, the Caps obviously generate more shots on controlled zone entries than uncontrolled entries, as does just about every hockey team on the planet. Some of the Caps power play struggles in December can be attributed to them not attempting to carry the puck in as much.
Individually, that story highlighted Marcus Johansson‘s role on the power play as Plan A for zone entries. Johansson was responsible for the puck on entry 44.6 percent of the time he was on the ice in the 10-game sample, nearly 20 percentage points higher than any other player on the top unit. Johansson was very successful, entering with control 89.3 percent of the time he was responsible for the puck.
Here’s a quick refresher on just how good that is, relative to his teammates:
|Player||iUncontrolled %||iControlled %||iFailed %|
Often, when the Caps move the puck up ice from the defensive zone on the PP, Mike Green will pass to Nick Backstrom, who will then pass to Johansson just prior to entering the zone. Here an example:
Barry Trotz and his coaching staff deserve credit for centering PP zone entries around Johansson. Considering the talent on the first PP unit, Johansson is going get less opponent attention than Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green. By having Johansson carry in the puck, the Caps force teams to pay more attention to him, spreading the penalty killers thin and giving more space to Caps’ shooters.
See this clip from the Stars game on January 17. Johansson’s zone entry takes the Stars’ attention away from Ovechkin, who, as a result, is open for a shot.
Here’s another example of a controlled entry by Johansson creating space for other players on the top PP unit. This one results in Ovechkin being left wide open, and we all know what happens most of the time when Ovechkin is left wide open from the Ovi spot.
The Caps PP generated 0.70 unblocked shot attempts per controlled entry over the 10-game sample I tracked. Here’s a look at the team’s shot generation on controlled entries, broken down by the player who carried the puck in on entry.
|Player||Unblocked SA per iControlled Entry|
Not only is Johansson is responsible for the puck on entry more than any other player and the most successful at entering the zone with control, but the Caps also generate more unblocked shot attempts per controlled entry by Johansson than any other player.
Johansson is the Caps’ most improved player under Trotz. The coaching staff’s decision to center PP zone entries around the Caps’ Swedish center-turned-winger, and Johansson’s success with the assignment, is one of the many examples of him thriving this season. Say, isn’t it about time the Caps re-sign this guy?
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