How the Nashville Predators Can Fix a Slumping Power Play

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators (R) congratulates Mikael Granlund #64 (L) on Granlund's goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on November 21, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 21: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators (R) congratulates Mikael Granlund #64 (L) on Granlund's goal against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on November 21, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Over the past few years, one of the major weaknesses of the Nashville Predators has been their powerplay, but that changed last season in an epic way.

The Nashville Predators made serious improvements under Assistant Coach Dan Lambert to rise to sixth in powerplay percentage across the NHL, and it was one of the reasons for them outperforming expectations in the first half of the season.

This season, it feels like we are right back at square one. The Predators have not been effective with the man advantage, and it has been the same stuff that doomed them in years past that now has them at 27th in power play percentage with a success rate of 16.7. That has dropped significantly from a 24.4 percent success rate in 2021-22.

It has started to improve a bit recently as the Predators as a team managed a five-game point streak, but to be fair, it is not like it could have gotten much worse.  The bottom line is that it has still left a lot to be desired.

Nashville Predators power play must adjust approach

Just up until recently, the Predators power play was in a state where they just could not buy a goal no matter what. The few possessions they got would not be long because of the lackluster passing, they would have great difficulty re-entering the zone, and the units looked like they had no chemistry.

It is not like all of those problems are gone now, but it is fair to say that each one has gotten slightly better. Since the home game against the New York Rangers, when the Predators began their point streak that ended in a shutout loss to the Detroit Red Wings, their powerplay has started to execute better and registered five goals in 27 tries.

That is alright, but not good enough if the team wants to eventually meet expectations this season. The actual play on the ice also shows that things need to change, and it starts with how it is actually run.

Getting Romain Josi into situations like they were practicing where he can crank up that accurate and powerful slapshot is what this team needs to be looking for:

Changing how the power play operates

The Predators oftentimes do much of their work on the perimeter, slowly moving and passing the puck around while waiting for the perfect shot to come. Many of the shots that they actually do take are through traffic and require a fluke bounce or a winning a dirty scramble to score, and that is not sustainable long-term.

When the Predators were doing well last season in this area, their puck movement was much faster, it was much crisper, and there were many goals you could look at and be impressed by the flow of the play. They did have their fair share of goals that came off of rebounds from shots far out, but more often than not the goal scorers were johnny on the spot or driving the net, one way or another being in the right place at the right time.

It’s been off through 20 games, and we are seeing more of the passive play where a good bit of luck is required to score. Part of that could be due to who they are playing on these units.

Power Play Goal Leaders for Preds Through 20 Games

  1. Roman Josi- 3
  2. Matt Duchene- 2
  3. Nino Niederreiter- 2
  4. Ryan Johansen- 2
  5. Filip Forsberg- 1

Filip Forsberg having just one power play goal through 20 games is a major drop-off from his 10 power play goals last season.

The Predators have shaken the power play units a good bit, and right now the top unit from last year is together. The question is, why is their personnel approach not a little more balanced?

It would make sense to have good net-front presences on both units, so why not have Juuso Parssinen and Nino Niederreiter each on a unit to complement the flashier talent? And why are players like Colton Sissons and Zach Sanford getting time on the man-advantage? Nothing against either player but that is not how you maximize such an advantage.

Sanford has since been waived by the team and sent to the Milwaukee Admirals.

If the Predators run units that mesh with each other better and start passing and moving the puck more effectively, they could return to being one of the top power play teams. Regardless, they will still not be perfect, and it brings up another area that only they can control.

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Their zone entries with the extra man must improve if they truly want to maximize their chances of scoring. They have usually consisted of the puck carrier trying to make something happen himself or aiming for a risky pass to another teammate who has entered the zone, which the penalty killers sniff out the vast majority of the time.

The Nashville Predators would just be better off dumping the pucks into the corners or right behind it, because if they are a team that prides themselves on physicality and forechecking, they can win those battles and set up possession once again. The flashy zone entries are not going to work in the slightest, so this is an area where they need to simplify what they are doing.

You could say that about the whole team this year, but this area especially seems hard to figure out as to why they cannot replicate their success. As a result, this team has been painfully average at best through the first quarter of the season.

Hopefully the Nashville Predators continue to build on those slight improvements from recent games and turn them into big improvements as we pass the quarter mark of the regular season.