Mike Green was the Caps’ make-it-happen guy on the power play, but in 2014-15 he scored just one goal while a man up. Green’s lack of man-advantage scoring led to his eventual displacement in favor of John Carlson, who has a better point shot anyway. But the Caps power play didn’t do wonderfully in the postseason, and now there may be some worry that Washington’s special teams might not be so special for the first time in a long time.
A quick history and also because this is awesome:
Q.E.D. The Caps power play has been a fearsome thing. Despite a coaching change last season, it remained so in 2014-15 (although it would’ve been nice to have more PP opportunities). That brings us to today.
My guess at the 2015-16 Caps power play, in its familiar 1-3-1 layout, looks like this:
The pressure is on Carlson, who scored three times and assisted thirteen more on the PP last season, to up his game.
Carlson will be backed up by Matt Niskanen, who did quite well for Pittsburgh (3 goals, 12 assists) in 2013-14 but played very little power-play time for Washington in 2014-15. Expect him to be the PP2QB in the coming campaign.
Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin, whose Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot has become the stuff of legend, will be asked to somehow keep doing that. He scored a career-best 25 power-play goals last year.
But the secret fulcrum of the power play will actually be Marcus Johansson.
Pat Holden told us in February that Johansson was the key to getting the power play a clean entry into the offensive zone. Getting that clean entry, nerds tell us, is then the key to getting shot attempts, which are sometimes quality scoring chances, which eventually somehow lead to goals, I forget how exactly. Neeeeerrrrrrddddssssss.
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.
I’ve noticed that Johansson rises and falls in the estimation of Caps fans (and maybe Caps coaches) with some regularity. I don’t know if the 2015-16 power play will affect his standing, but maybe it should. He’s the guy behind the guy behind the guy after all, and he is so very important. So while Caps will definitely miss Mike Green, the D in Detroit, I’m more interested in how Johansson contributes.
My guess: the Caps power play will persevere for another season and continue to be among the league’s best.
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