Perhaps catching lightning in a bottle isn’t so rare.
The Edmonton Oilers’ 2019-20 power play was the best power play the NHL had seen since 1979-80, the year that the Oilers entered the NHL.
That was a high bar set, and with power plays such a fragile operation, the fear was that this season Edmonton’s power play would come back down to earth.
But this year’s power play is getting more opportunities. The referees are handing the Oilers more power play time on ice so far this season. And this power play is also generating Grade A chances at a higher rate than the brilliant 2019-20 group.
Last year, Edmonton’s power play had 168 Grade A chances in 313 minutes, 1.07 Grade As per two minutes of power play time.
This year it has 79 Grade A chances in 132 minutes, 1.20 per two minutes.
The power play in 2019-20 scored at a higher rate, 59 goals in 313 minutes, 0.38 goals per two minutes, good for first overall in the NHL at power play efficiency.
This year it’s at 22 goals in 132 minutes, 0.33 goals per two minutes, making it the seventh best power play in the NHL so far.
But Edmonton is getting more power play goals per game because of its increased time on ice (which may or may not last depending on the whims of NHL refs). And it’s also getting those increased rate of Grade A chances, which means the success it’s having isn’t due to puck luck, that it’s likely sustainable.
The most remarkable matter in comparing this year and last year’s power plays is just how similar they are.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are chipping in on Grade A chances at almost exactly the rate as they did last season, though McDavid is getting off a higher rate of Grade A scoring chance shots than ever on the power play.
Last year, McDavid chipped in on 106 Grade A chances in 249 minutes, 0.85 per two minute power play, while this year he’s at 55 chances in 114 minutes, 0.96 per two.
Draisaitl is having the same level of attack performance, 0.72 major contributions per two minutes both this year and last. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is almost at the exact same level as well, 0.52 per two this year, 0.53 per two last year.
And the same goes for the net front guys, with Alex Chiasson at 0.63 per two and James Neal at 0.47 per two last year, while Chiasson is at 0.89 per two, Jesse Puljujarvi at 0.65 per two and Neal at 0.40 per two this year.
If Puljujarvi wants to master the craft of playing in front of the net on the power play all he needs to do is look at Chiasson’s brilliant and rapid shifting from passing to screening to shooting to winning pucks in the corners. Chiasson is a master at this part of the NHL game, surely one of the best in the NHL at this particular task.