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Cullen: Comparing power play ice time to last season

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Scott Cullen
1/25/2012 2:11:55 PM
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One of the most important factors in whether a player will be productive is opportunity. It's all well and good to have skills, but if a player isn't put in the position to score, it's awfully difficult to put up the numbers.

With that in mind, I've broken down the players that are seeing different usage on the power play this season compared to last, both positively and negatively.

Among those getting more power play time, it should be no surprise that some are enjoying breakthrough offensive campaigns.

Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds played in a checking role with Los Angeles, managing one power play point over the last two seasons, but he's received a bigger role with the Flyers and nine of his 27 points have come with the man advantage. An extra two-and-a-half minutes per game on the PP certainly affords him a much better opportunity to accumulate points.

Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly had four power play points in his first two seasons combined, but has a dozen points with the man advantage this year as he's become the team's leading scorer.

These are typical cases -- young players that reach a point in their development at which they are trusted enough with the responsibility to play power play minutes -- and many others fall under this umbrella.

However, there are some veterans that have received generous boosts in power play time this year too. Jay Harrison and Alexei Ponikarovsky, for example, saw significant bumps in power play time with Carolina. It seems to have worked for Harrison, who is having his best season as a 29-year-old, while it hasn't had the same effect on Ponikarovsky, whose production was still down and has since been traded to New Jersey.

Sometimes, the players chosen to play these power play minutes reflect a team's level of desperation. A lack of proven scoring forwards led the Hurricanes to not only give Ponikarovsky power play time, but Chad LaRose and Drayson Bowman are a couple more wingers that have seen more time on the power play.

Minnesota's defence has also been looking for answers, particularly with Marek Zidlicky injured then falling out of favour, so Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon have seen increased roles.

In any case, here is a look at the Top 40 players in terms of increased power play time per game (measured in seconds, among players to have played in at least 10 games in each of the last two seasons).

Biggest PP TOI Increases (min. 10 GP)

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. '11-12 PP TOI '10-11 PP TOI DIFF.
1. Wayne Simmonds Philadelphia RW 206 51 155
2. Ryan O'Reilly Colorado C 155 38 117
3. Jay Harrison Carolina D 124 8 116
4. Nick Leddy Chicago D 123 12 110
5. Colin Greening Ottawa LW 134 28 106
6. Marco Scandella Minnesota D 116 11 105
7. Brad Marchand Boston LW 137 32 104
8. Cam Barker Edmonton D 187 83 104
9. Colin Wilson Nashville LW 152 47 104
10. James Neal Pittsburgh LW 254 155 99
11. Yannick Weber Montreal D 210 112 98
12. Nikita Nikitin Columbus D 174 77 97
13. James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia LW 173 79 94
14. David Desharnais Montreal C 205 113 92
15. Jared Spurgeon Minnesota D 173 88 84
16. Steve Sullivan Pittsburgh LW 246 163 83
17. Chris Neil Ottawa RW 112 30 82
18. David Clarkson New Jersey RW 180 100 80
19. Tim Stapleton Winnipeg RW 95 17 78
20. Tyler Seguin Boston RW 157 82 75
21. Chad LaRose Carolina RW 103 30 73
22. Drayson Bowman Carolina LW 101 28 73
23. Alexei Ponikarovsky New Jersey LW 126 54 72
24. Steve Montador Chicago D 94 22 72
25. Alexander Burmistrov Winnipeg C 90 18 71
26. Marcus Johansson Washington C 126 57 69
27. Claude Giroux Philadelphia C 252 184 68
28. Eric Brewer Tampa Bay D 103 36 67
29. Sami Salo Vancouver D 181 114 67
30. Blake Wheeler Winnipeg RW 146 80 66
31. Marcus Kruger Chicago C 69 6 64
32. Alex Burrows Vancouver LW 123 61 62
33. Oliver Ekman-Larsson Phoenix D 120 60 61
34. Tomas Fleischmann Florida LW 209 149 60
35. Chris Campoli Montreal D 135 76 59
36. Dustin Brown Los Angeles RW 233 177 57
37. Jordan Eberle Edmonton RW 209 153 56
38. Ilya Kovalchuk New Jersey RW 306 250 56
39. Jason Garrison Florida D 149 93 56
40. Mark Fayne New Jersey D 101 45 55

If some players are going to get more power play time, it only stands to reason that others will see less time with the man advantage. Just as some of the young players getting more power play time are experiencing breakthrough offensive seasons, several players that are getting less power play time have naturally seen their production fade.

Anton Stralman played a prominent role in Columbus' 29th-ranked power play last season, so perhaps it's not a huge surprise that he's not so prominently involved in the Rangers' power play efforts, even if the Blueshirts currently sit 25th with the man advantage this season.

Injuries have derailed the career of Edmonton defenceman Ryan Whitney and Washington's Mike Green, so getting healthy and back on the ice is a bigger concern than the amount of power play time they've been receiving, but other veteran defencemen have been surpassed on their own depth charts. Phoenix's Michal Rozsival, for instance, has been removed from the power play altogether, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson's development helps make that a natural transition.

The Islanders' power play has gone through significant changes. Mark Streit's return, after missing the entire 2010-2011 season, has meant fewer power play opportunities for Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and even Mike Mottau on the blueline, while Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau (before he was dealt to Calgary) had their roles decreased too.

If we look at some of the bigger names, perhaps it's not a huge surprise that their point production is down this year too. Buffalo's Derek Roy, the Rangers' Brad Richards and Toronto's Tim Connolly have all seen their power play production dip.

Otherwise, a lot of the forwards on the list aren't typical power play forwards and they may have been fortunate enough to see spot duty on the PP in 2010-2011, only to get bumped back down the depth chart this season.

Here, then, are the Bottom 40 players in terms of decreased power play time per game (measured in seconds, among players to have played in at least 10 games in each of the last two seasons).

Biggest PP TOI Decreases (min. 10 GP)

PLAYER TEAM POS. '11-12 PP TOI '10-11 PP TOI DIFF.
Mathieu Perreault Washington C 29 90 -62
Grant Clitsome Columbus D 149 211 -62
Pavel Kubina Tampa Bay D 79 142 -63
Derek Roy Buffalo C 160 224 -64
Niclas Bergfors Nashville RW 36 102 -66
Rostislav Olesz Chicago LW 1 67 -67
Antoine Vermette Columbus C 106 175 -69
Travis Hamonic N.Y. Islanders D 51 120 -69
Brendan Morrison Calgary C 70 140 -69
Kevin Porter Colorado C 27 98 -70
Andrej Sekera Buffalo D 53 125 -72
Brad Richards N.Y. Rangers C 244 320 -76
Dustin Jeffrey Pittsburgh C 38 115 -77
David Schlemko Phoenix D 19 97 -78
Joel Ward Washington RW 12 90 -78
Jacob Josefson New Jersey C 25 105 -80
Brandon Yip Nashville RW 24 105 -82
Victor Hedman Tampa Bay D 16 99 -82
Josh Bailey N.Y. Islanders C 59 144 -85
Mike Santorelli Florida C 76 162 -86
Joe Corvo Boston D 154 242 -87
Mike Green Washington D 179 267 -88
Michael Frolik Chicago RW 11 101 -90
Nikolai Kulemin Toronto LW 67 159 -93
David Perron St. Louis LW 176 270 -94
Andrew MacDonald N.Y. Islanders D 89 183 -94
Mattias Tedenby New Jersey LW 17 112 -95
Tim Connolly Toronto C 73 170 -97
Eric Fehr Winnipeg RW 20 117 -97
Michal Handzus San Jose C 64 161 -97
Mike Commodore Detroit D 5 103 -98
Jamie Langenbrunner St. Louis RW 44 146 -102
Brett Clark Tampa Bay D 68 172 -104
Blake Comeau Calgary LW 43 150 -107
Roman Hamrlik Washington D 39 154 -115
Michal Rozsival Phoenix D 0 120 -120
Andrei Loktionov Los Angeles C 32 154 -122
Mike Mottau N.Y. Islanders D 3 126 -124
Ryan Whitney Edmonton D 135 259 -124
Anton Stralman N.Y. Rangers D 40 178 -138

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Wayne Simmonds (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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