Last season, the Detroit Red Wings power play was dreadful, but thanks to some new faces behind the bench and in the locker room, the unit has already seen plenty of growth.
In 2020-21, Detroit’s 11.4 percent success rate on the man advantage was the second worst in the league (behind the Anaheim Ducks, who finished at 8.9). Three games into the season, the team’s current power play success rate is 18.2 percent, which is good for twentieth in the league.
For most teams in the league, having a power play percentage slightly below league average wouldn’t be considered an achievement. But after the mess that was last year’s power play unit, the team’s current level of success is shocking. They are improved according to both statistics and the eye test. Improving the success rate by a good chunk of percentage points is great, but watching the unit perform really shows just how much this team has grown in a single offseason.
There are new looks and fantastic puck movement; instead of hanging on to the puck and waiting for defensive holes to appear, the team is slinging it back and fourth and trying to create a hole. Zone entry hasn’t been exactly stellar so far, but once the unit gets comfortable, it gets extremely dangerous for the opposing team. This fresh take on the man advantage is due in (large) part to Dan Bylsma’s replacement on the coaching staff, Alex Tanguay. He’s clearly made the team better both in scheming and in style on the power play, and as the team gets better, Tanguay’s scheming will only improve.
Also a factor in improving the power play? Defensemen that can actually move the puck. Last year, the defenseman in Detroit were focused on making conservative plays and puck safety, which is good in five-on-five time – but during a power play, it meant that there wasn’t really a threat at the blue line. But this year, the team as added Moritz Seider and Nick Leddy into the lineup, both players known for their ability to sling the puck around the offensive zone. Leddy leads the first power play unit and Seider leads the second. The duo have been a key factor in Detroit’s improvement on the man advantage. Seider has made a few mistakes, but he’s still looked solid as the second power play quarterback. He’ll only get better as the season progresses.
Leddy and Seider both lead the team in assists, with three a piece. The two are thriving in their role as the Red Wings best offensive-defenseman, and nowhere is that clearer than on the power play. The duo presents a real one-two punch on the blue line, especially as Seider continues to develop throughout the year.