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.
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).
|RANK||PLAYER||TEAM||POS.||'11-12 PP TOI||'10-11 PP TOI||DIFF.|
|13.||James van Riemsdyk||Philadelphia||LW||173||79||94|
|18.||David Clarkson||New Jersey||RW||180||100||80|
|23.||Alexei Ponikarovsky||New Jersey||LW||126||54||72|
|28.||Eric Brewer||Tampa Bay||D||103||36||67|
|36.||Dustin Brown||Los Angeles||RW||233||177||57|
|38.||Ilya Kovalchuk||New Jersey||RW||306||250||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).
|PLAYER||TEAM||POS.||'11-12 PP TOI||'10-11 PP TOI||DIFF.|
|Pavel Kubina||Tampa Bay||D||79||142||-63|
|Travis Hamonic||N.Y. Islanders||D||51||120||-69|
|Brad Richards||N.Y. Rangers||C||244||320||-76|
|Jacob Josefson||New Jersey||C||25||105||-80|
|Victor Hedman||Tampa Bay||D||16||99||-82|
|Josh Bailey||N.Y. Islanders||C||59||144||-85|
|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|
|Michal Handzus||San Jose||C||64||161||-97|
|Jamie Langenbrunner||St. Louis||RW||44||146||-102|
|Brett Clark||Tampa Bay||D||68||172||-104|
|Andrei Loktionov||Los Angeles||C||32||154||-122|
|Mike Mottau||N.Y. Islanders||D||3||126||-124|
|Anton Stralman||N.Y. Rangers||D||40||178||-138|