The St. Louis Blues score at a higher rate on the powerplay than the Vancouver Canucks do and that’s a scary thought.
The Canucks have one of the deadliest powerplays in the NHL. They scored 56 goals in 69 games this season, and the Blues were just behind them with 50 goals in 71 games. However, when you look at the goals per 60 minutes, the Blues actually rank higher than the Canucks.
There will be a lot of powerplay goals in this series and both teams will have to play disciplined to steer clear from each others’ high powered powerplays.
Cough! Cough! Tyler Myers…
The Blues’ powerplay scored on 24.3% of their powerplays this season — that is just 0.1% higher than the Canucks’ 24.2%.
The first unit is run by Alex Pietrangelo, Braydenn Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Jaden Schwartz and David Perron. It’s not quite the murderers row that the Canucks can send out on their first powerplay unit but the Blues know how to get it done with the man advantage.
Here are their top scorers from the season.
The Blues’ powerplay works as a committee, as the loss of Vladamir Tarasenko has forced the coaching staff to get creative with their powerplay strategy. With that change, the Blues approach the powerplay with an all out attack towards the net. They are extremely strong at creating chances off of rebounds and having their half wall players drive hard to the net to bury those rebounds.
Schenn will man the left wall while Perron sets up on the right side. These two are on their strong sides and will charge the net on any shot attempt by the point man or opposing side winger. This is very effective and when you combine those attacking half wall players with the two man screen from O’Reilly and Schwartz, it all adds up to an aggressive powerplay that thrives on driving everything downhill towards the net.
Keep an eye on Schenn’s aggressiveness on the Pietrangelo shot here. The shot goes in with help from the double screen but Schenn is right there in case the puck were to bounce in his direction.
This seems to be the go-to strategy for the Blues as Perron will move around the ice but when he does move, one of the left-handed shots (usually Schenn or Schwartz) will play catch with Pietrangelo on the top and the left side wall man will always be attacking the net for the rebound.
Here’s another example as Schenn and O’Reilly swapped places. This Blues left shot guys are free to rotate around and will each play different positions if the play leads them there. Even with the change in positioning you still see the two right shot players (Pietrangelo and Perron) initiating the shot and the left wall man (O’Reilly in this situation) charging the net hard on the shot attempt.
The two players taking the most shots for the Blues are David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo. Like I mentioned earlier, this duo of righties love to play catch with the puck. Pietrangelo will fire shots at every opportunity. He scored six powerplay goals this season and they mostly came when he was able to walk directly into the slot and fire a shot off.
The Blues only have two one-timer spots on their powerplay, Pietrangelo from Perron is the first option and the second one is Schenn to the bumper for O’Reilly. Pietrangelo will be fed a steady diet of one-timers from Perron who does like to shoot himself as well.
Perron was used primarily on the right half-wall shot and he will walk down and rip more shots than anyone. Those shots are sometimes targeting a rebound if the goaltender is keyed in on him. Schwartz, O’Reilly and Schenn react off of Perron and his shooting, their unit has a lot of chemistry.
The Canucks will need to be all over Pietrangelo and Perron, those two are where the powerplay runs through. Throughout the season we saw Perron on his strong side but Perron has been on the left side of the powerplay during the post-season. The Blues have positional fluidity with their group and will often change positions on the ice. We will soon see how they come out in game one against the Canucks.
Here’s their one powerplay goal from the post-season.
The Canucks seemed to have the formula to contain the dynamic Blues powerplay. This season the Canucks were perfect against the Blues while shorthanded, killing off a total of nine Blues powerplays. In fact, when Brandon Sutter was on the ice, the Canucks actually had more high danger shot attempts shorthanded then the Blues did with the man advantage.
The Blues are also getting back their most dangerous powerplay weapon for the playoffs. Vladamir Tarasenko played in only 10 games this season before going down with an injury. He could slot in anywhere on the powerplay or might even be a part of the second unit. He’s a real x-factor in this series because if he’s healthy he is a gifted scorer.
His goals on the powerplay typically come from the right half-boards so that would likely throw David Perron back onto the left side. We could see Tarasenko and Pietrangelo playing catch instead of Perron and Pietrangelo if the Blues choose to go with that mix up on their powerplay.
It will be a tough decision for the Blues as they boasted one of the top powerplays in the league without Tarasenko but he is the type of player that you just can’t leave off your first unit. Game one should answer a lot of questions about the Blues’ powerplay unit.
Depending on how the refs call this series, the powerplay could end up making the difference in multiple games. The Canucks were only one for 12 in their powerplay opportunities against the Blues this season so something has got to give in this series. These powerplays are too good to be contained for this long.