Hockey Analytics

# Power Play Line Combinations

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

I was curious to see what the Columbus power-play was doing so right in order to generate a 25% efficiency, while also trying to differentiate who's benefiting on the ice by all this firepower.

This neat breakdown by Jack Han offered a visual explanation of how the Blue jackets utilize triangles to formulate success.

New #1MinuteTactics: Why is #BlueJackets 1-3-1 PP so visually appealing and offensively potent? Triangles! @AlisonL @IneffectiveMath pic.twitter.com/cWUAEdEB7Q

— Jack Han (@ml_han) November 20, 2016

Not everyone has the ability to highlight efficiency through video however and pinpointing specifics maybe too deep an analysis if you’re looking to supplement your fantasy roster with a player knocking it out on the power play.

Another neat feature appears on Corsica. is the ability to evaluate entire line combos performance, taking the conventional WOWY (with or without you) analysis one step further from player pairings to include the full forward unit. The site also offers the ability to download the results into a handy .csv file to open with Microsoft Excel for more detailed analysis should poolies/users require to do some work offline.

Most power plays have experimented with, or use a lone defenseman at the top of the 1-3-1 or umbrella, adding a fourth forward and changing the dynamic somewhat.

At 5v5 this is a very useful tool, but for the purposes below I just wanted focus on 5v4 line combos. Power play analysis can be enhanced immensely by system/video and analytics work (as Jack showed in his video), with practical applications, detailed and focused study used as a springboard to launch the talented Arik Parnass into an NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche.

Here, we are going to dive into some 5v4 line combinations. Injuries, futility and occasional coach’s carousel changes things up, but most teams don’t stray too much from a main unit – and a secondary unit if time permits – unless the first unit scores a ton.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have used 18 different combinations at 5v4 accumulating 78 total points, while the Buffalo Sabres have used five different units - 58 points. The high flying Columbus Blue Jackets have 74 points among the nine different combos (data cutoff is as of Nov 21).

In all, 137 different NHL line combinations have produced at least one goal at 5v4 and 158 combination totaling 369 fruitless minutes without a goal.

Only 25 line combos league wide have scored more than five goals. At the bottom of the listing (which is alphabetical), four different Toronto Maple Leafs combinations featuring an Auston Matthews/William Nylander combination or either of them with the Nazem Kadri/Leo Komarov pairing.

 P1 P2 P3 Team TOI GF SF60 FF60 KYLE.OKPOSO SAM.REINHART MATT.MOULSON BUF 50.25 10 72.84 96.72 SAM.REINHART RYAN.O'REILLY MATT.MOULSON BUF 31.94 9 75.14 108.95 SAM.REINHART RYAN.O'REILLY KYLE.OKPOSO BUF 30.38 8 71.1 104.67 RYAN.O'REILLY KYLE.OKPOSO MATT.MOULSON BUF 28.82 8 74.95 108.26 ALEX.WENNBERG CAM.ATKINSON NICK.FOLIGNO CBJ 36.18 12 63.02 91.21 ALEX.WENNBERG SAM.GAGNER NICK.FOLIGNO CBJ 32.27 8 57.64 79.95 SAM.GAGNER CAM.ATKINSON NICK.FOLIGNO CBJ 31.56 8 58.94 83.65 ALEX.WENNBERG SAM.GAGNER CAM.ATKINSON CBJ 30.54 8 60.9 84.48 TYLER.SEGUIN PATRICK.EAVES JAMIE.BENN DAL 58.66 10 52.17 83.87 JASON.SPEZZA TYLER.SEGUIN JAMIE.BENN DAL 31.65 6 43.6 79.62 JORDAN.EBERLE CONNOR.MCDAVID MILAN.LUCIC EDM 51.54 8 50.06 68.68 MIKE.FISHER RYAN.JOHANSEN JAMES.NEAL NSH 32.08 6 65.46 74.81 WAYNE.SIMMONDS CLAUDE.GIROUX JAKUB.VORACEK PHI 64.59 9 65.03 98.47 BRAYDEN.SCHENN WAYNE.SIMMONDS CLAUDE.GIROUX PHI 58.5 11 70.77 103.59 BRAYDEN.SCHENN WAYNE.SIMMONDS JAKUB.VORACEK PHI 54.37 7 69.52 102.63 BRAYDEN.SCHENN CLAUDE.GIROUX JAKUB.VORACEK PHI 53.07 7 67.83 101.75 EVGENI.MALKIN PHIL.KESSEL PATRIC.HORNQVIST PIT 42.67 9 70.31 87.18 EVGENI.MALKIN PHIL.KESSEL SIDNEY.CROSBY PIT 34.5 9 53.91 66.09 TYLER.JOHNSON STEVEN.STAMKOS ONDREJ.PALAT T.B 40.81 6 66.16 86.74 VLADISLAV.NAMESTNIKOV STEVEN.STAMKOS ONDREJ.PALAT T.B 35.98 6 66.7 85.05 ALEX.KILLORN BRAYDEN.POINT VALTTERI.FILPPULA T.B 26.2 6 70.99 84.73 WILLIAM.NYLANDER AUSTON.MATTHEWS LEO.KOMAROV TOR 31.72 7 62.42 83.23 WILLIAM.NYLANDER AUSTON.MATTHEWS NAZEM.KADRI TOR 28.94 6 55.98 78.78 WILLIAM.NYLANDER NAZEM.KADRI LEO.KOMAROV TOR 22.56 6 63.83 85.11 AUSTON.MATTHEWS NAZEM.KADRI LEO.KOMAROV TOR 22.3 6 64.57 86.1

All the teams listed above appear in the top 10 NHL shooting percentage, with the exception of the Edmonton Oilers, ranked 12th rolling in with one line. Toronto ranked exactly half (15th), playing 90.8 minutes overall and well below the 106 average time on ice, scoring 27 goals – almost doubling the league average.

Sorted by team shooting percentage at 5v4 (hello surprising Columbus scoring machine) in the table below, the last column shows the average amount of points earned per goal, a figure that’s more desirable closer to three than one. The NHL average is 1.81. Los Angeles has earned the most points per goal on five 5v4 goals. Tampa Bay who sits right at the NHL average points/goal have scored the most (43) in the NHL.

 Teams Combos GF Line Pts Tm SH% TOI Pts/Goal CBJ 9 37 74 25 75.2 2.00 MTL 7 8 12 21.6 92.8 1.50 PIT 8 22 42 18.8 96.7 1.91 CAR 8 11 21 16.7 98.7 1.91 T.B 18 43 78 16.4 118 1.81 DAL 11 30 52 15.9 128 1.73 BUF 5 35 58 15.9 103 1.66 PHI 9 38 62 14.6 119 1.63 NSH 9 21 34 14.4 108 1.62 NYR 14 16 32 14.1 106 2.00 COL 6 5 10 13.9 93.1 2.00 EDM 14 27 50 13.3 102 1.85 CHI 7 8 15 12.5 119 1.88 STL 13 18 31 12 119 1.72 TOR 10 27 54 12 90.8 2.00 ANA 6 6 13 11.7 125 2.17 ARI 8 3 5 11.1 95.7 1.67 DET 9 4 5 11 119 1.25 MIN 7 4 7 10.7 109 1.75 FLA 9 8 15 10.3 122 1.88 NYI 11 6 7 8.57 84.1 1.17 VAN 10 8 17 8.57 104 2.13 L.A 6 5 12 8.33 106 2.40 N.J 12 11 17 7.87 117 1.55 OTT 12 14 22 7.58 89.2 1.57 S.J 12 15 22 7.22 107 1.47 BOS 10 7 16 7.14 103 2.29 WPG 11 12 25 6.45 131 2.08 CGY 9 3 5 6.32 131 1.67 WSH 15 18 36 6.17 95.5 2.00

Sometimes when trying to supplement a roster and might be looking specifically for a player that performs well at 5v4. Using the functionality here to isolate a team/player, working on their performance on a line – and then breaking it down to that player with each of the linemates separately offers a distinct view of who is driving the power play.

For instance, Alexander Wennberg, Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson all rank at the top of points per game at 5v4 and all three players are featured at the top of the Blue Jackets line combination pairings together or supplemented by a complementary player.

For the Leafs, the Nylander and Matthews combo have appeared together very often, but as far as production is concerned, Nylander has earned a point on every goal scored while on the ice at 5v4 and Matthews on 57.1% of the goals scored.

There’s much more to explore with sites taking analysis to the next level. Check out Corsica.ca for more on this.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey