Thrashers PP: Who Is Most Effective with Extra Man?

The Atlanta Thrashers have been a pleasant surprise so far this season and one of the big reason has been the Power Play. The Thrashers are in the top five in both Power Play Percentage and total Power Play Goals scored. In their history, the Thrashers have had some big time scorers but rarely was their Power Play ranked this high. Perhaps even more surprising is that the Thrashers have improved their PP% significantly despite losing Ilya Kovalchuk who racked up some huge PP point totals over the years. So which players are doing well with the man advantage this year?

The table below lists players who have average at least 30 seconds of PP ice time per game so far this season. The 11 players below are essentially the Thrashers 1st and 2nd PP units. The first unit (based on ice time) has been Enstrom and Byfuglien at the points with Ladd, Peverley and Kane up front. The second unit has Bogosian and Oduya at the points and Antropov, Little and Stewart (or sometimes Bergfors).

One way to look at PP effectiveness would be to look at which players are scoring power play points, but looking at points might cause you to undervalue a forward who screens the goalie (but doesn't tip the puck). So I'm more interested in the question of WHO is on the ice when the Thrashers PP is most efficient. So I have listed off the Thrashers TEAM PP Goals and TEAM PP Goals Against (aka Short Handed Goals Against) for each player. As you can see, Enstrom is +17 and Byfuglien is +16 with the man advantage, while Ladd and Peverley are both tied at +11 among the forwards.

But not all player get the same amount of ice time. In a  60 minute game, Enstrom leads all Thrashers in averaging 4 and a half minutes of 5 on 4 ice time, in contrast Anthony Stewart averages less than two minutes per game. So the last column shows the TEAM Goals For Average when that particular player is on the ice (and the players are ranked from best to worst in this metric).

Anthony Stewart is your leader as "Most Effective Forward" so far this season. The Thrashers have scored 10 PPGF when he is on the ice which works out to a PP GFA of nearly 11 per 60 minutes of PP ice time. Stewart has been a big surprise to me so far this season. He's a Rick Dudley pick from his Florida Panthers GM days and has put together a solid season so far. I'm not sure he can sustain this kind of pace, but he does work hard down low.Honestly, I'm surprised that Evander Kane hasn't been more effective with the extra attacker so far this season.

The most effective defenseman has been Dustin Byfuglien--both he and Enstrom have a similar plus/minus, but Buff has averaged fewer minutes. There is a big drop off between the 1st and 2nd unit PP defensemen.

 

NAME TOI/60 PP Goals For PP Goals Against PP +/- PP GFA
ANTHONY STEWART  1.83 10 0 10 10.94
DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN  3.66 18 2 16 9.82
RICH PEVERLEY  2.94 13 2 11 8.85
ANDREW LADD  3.01 13 2 11 8.63
BRYAN LITTLE  2.35 8 1 7 8.51
TOBIAS ENSTROM  4.54 19 2 17 8.37
NICKLAS BERGFORS  1.68 6 0 6 8.23
NIK ANTROPOV  2.51 9 1 8 7.43
EVANDERKANE  2.67 8 0 8 6.41
JOHN ODUYA 1.31 4 0 4 6.12
ZACH BOGOSIAN  1.82 4 0 4 5.50

 

Two things observations:

  1. The gap between the best and worst forward isn't really that big. There doesn't appear to be a huge drop off between the first or second PP units up front.
  2. Dustin Byfuglien has very effectively replace Ilya Kovalchuk as the big gun out at the point. His 9.82 PPGA compares very favorably with Kovalchuk's recent PPGFA 3.78 (2010-11), 6.17 (2009-10), 6.47 (2008-09) numbers. However, as hot as Byfuglien has been, it wouldn't surprise me if he cools off a bit at some point during the rest of the season.

Conclusion

The Thrashers don't appear to have a clear offensive leader among the PP forwards, but Byfuglien-Enstrom pairing is markedly better at the points. The team has been more efficient at PP scoring with Byfuglien at the point than it was with Kovalchuk back there.

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