I’m in the midst of obsessively re-watching the power plays in Sharks-Oilers games from the last four years, trying to learn something about power plays. The Sharks have this absolutely beautiful little zone entry play that I wanted to highlight.
It starts in their own end, with the second defenceman, whoever that might be, giving the puck to Dan Boyle. Note Patrick Marleau on the far side of the ice, behind Boyle. Marleau is going to skate very slowly towards the blue line.
Boyle hits the blue line and skates up ice, angling slightly towards the right side of the ice, getting the forward moving with him. Meanwhile, Joe Thornton is close to the Oilers blue line but ready to make a move – you can Ryan Jones, at the bottom, just behind the red line, looking over his shoulder to his left, keeping an eye an Thornton. Marleau is still meandering towards the blue line.
All of the sudden, Marleau is in full flight, streaking towards the blue line. Boyle has dropped the puck and cut harder to his right – Thornton brushes past him, which works because Thornton is a left handed shot – he’s in a good position to pick up the puck and move it to Marleau. Note as well that the Oilers defender is already on the blue line on Marleau’s side of the ice – he’s going to be flat footed. Boyle effectively picks Jones out of the play.
The fight for zone entry is over at this point. Marleau is now moving full speed on a flat footed defenceman. He has two options: if the defenceman is in a better position to defend him, he can simply pass it to the winger on the boards, who can skate in unmolested. If, as here, the defenceman is utterly flat-footed, Marleau also has the option of simply stepping wide.
The Sharks are probably running this, or some variant of it, on half their breakouts against the Oilers. It’s all aimed at creating that mismatch two on one of the let side. It’s amazing to watch and impressive how effective it is. The Oilers don’t really seem to have any ability to stop it. The really fascinating thing is how simple it is – you;d think basically any NHL calibre players could execute this. It seems awfully organized relative to the Oilers in the games I’ve watched so far.
Update: This is from the following game. JONES GETS SMART!
Here’s Boyle and Thornton about to run the play – but Jones smells it!
Boyle makes a quick little move with the puck and sends Pavelski in unchallenged. Oilerz.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org