Special Team Solution? Familiar Linemates Lead To Power Play Success
The Kings' struggles on the power play have been well-documented throughout the playoffs. Heading into Game 3, they'd converted at a measly 8% rate. Good power plays manage 18-20%. It was as if there was no advantage to getting a power play at all.
Special team shuffles and endless rounds of tinkering yielded few results. Should the young puckmover Alec Martinez be on the point? Richards? Mitchell? Stoll? Did Richards/Carter/Kopitar on one unit make for too many centers in the kitchen? Everyone seemed to hold onto the puck just a little bit too long. They didn't get off enough shots. Half of their power play goals came when the advantage was 5 on 3.
When Simon Gagne entered the lineup, many of us assumed he was brought in to help the power play. This did not turn out to be the case. Instead, the Kings' usual PP units were broken up in favor of linemates who play together at even strength.
The chemistry worked.
The Kings haven't had many power play opportunities in the Final, but Justin Williams drew one in the third. The top line left the ice, and Penner-Richards-Carter took over. They were joined by Mitchell and Voynov, usual defense partners at even strength.
Mitchell kept the puck in, Penner stood with his big butt in front of the net, and Richards fed Carter for a perfect shot that beat Brodeur up high.
The second power play goal came off a penalty drawn by Brown. Once again, the Richards line took the first shift. Then Brown-Kopitar-Williams went over the boards, supported by Doughty and Scuderi:
Gagne might not see power play time after this. They seem to be working off regular lines.