Florida Panthers' flaw in the power game

Florida Panthers’ flaw in the power game

Eight games into the post-season, the Panthers have yet to score in the strength game. While Florida has made it through the first round without taking advantage of the advantage, it does reduce their chances of overtaking most of the Stanley Cup champions.

Lightning, who led 2-0 in the second round and essentially stripped the Panthers’ advantage from the ice at home, has gone 4-9 over the last two games. Florida, on the other hand, is 0 versus 7 this series.

This makes the Panthers reach a spoiled record of 0 for 25 to open the playoffs. This is the fourth worst qualifying start since 1977-78, according to data compiled by Prashanth Iyer. The only teams ranked worst are the 1995-96 Jets (0 vs 28), 1986-87 Capitals (0 vs 29) and 2010-11 Bruins (0 vs 30). The latter might raise some hope because this team managed to win it all despite the power struggles; They have been elite in every other area of ​​the game, while Florida fails to capitalize on the offensive firepower that has earned them the President’s Cup.

So, what in the world went wrong with the Panthers’ Power Game?

Florida’s strong play is something we talked about a lot about heading into the post-season because the Panthers had success with a five-man unit and ran with them from deadline through to the end of the season.

The switch from the usual four forward, one unit defense came after Aaron Ekblad, the regular quarterback for the first unit, went down through injury. Soon after, Florida acquired striker Claude Giroud, who could be a threat in those situations. Therefore, the Panthers replaced Ekeblad with Jiro, and they did not add another man of defense.

Ekblad returned for season after season, knocking Duclair out of that senior unit. The tricky part was that the Panthers had to consider rebalancing that top unit with Giroux in the fold because they had yet to try both the Defenders and adding the deadline in the lineup together.

Although the team has made adjustments, even back to the five-man unit, Florida still has no goals to show through its eight games. Worse yet, it’s not a matter of bad luck.

What is different?

It’s not a matter of the amount of shots on the roof – Florida tried a similar rate of shots on 5 on 4 powerhouse chances. There are some differences as to where those shots came from and who.

The heatmap helps show how few snapshots the point was created in Florida without turnout at the end of the regular season.

This has changed since qualifying began, many of which came from the lone defender, Eckblad, who made shots at a rate of 36.8 per 60. However, a number of these shots were blocked and missed, which is why only 13.8 shots were created on target out of every 60.

Not surprisingly, Alexander Barkov had more gambling attempts in the post-season than at the end of the regular season, when he played strictly point-for-shift back and forth. But none of those opener shots were tied to the goal.

Jonathan Huberdeau has increased his shot and shooting slots in the post-season. However, Sam Reinhart and Giroux both shoot less – which is why there are so few shots coming from the hole, considering it tends to be centered as the front grille down the middle. The most common shooters in this higher unit aren’t the players constantly positioned within the home board area – it’s Ekblad, in his minutes, and Barkov, who roams between circle and point.

All of which helps explain why the Cheetahs generate a lower rate of hole shots (a decrease of 5.9 attempts per 60). Even more annoying, though, is that their high-quality shots don’t make it nearly as often as they often do, missed or blocked – from 45 percent of their shot attempts connected to just 33.

What may also affect the severity of the Leopards’ shots is the passing. Florida has seen a lot of puck movement over the past month in addition to play, and that’s also down eight games. This likely affects why Reinhart and Giroud have scored less than they did in the regular season.

Less strategic passes may be on those teams that often try to simplify their games in the post-season. Or, facing only one team in each series allows them to choose directions and break up passes more often. With fewer passes, shooting positions can also be more predictable and allow penalty killers to interact with blocks or stick plays that alter the angle of the shot. The fact that defenders clear the area more often can explain why there are fewer passes in the o-zone, since there is less time in formation.

Due to Barkoff’s reduced pass volume and efficiency, Reinhart and Anthony Dockler’s performance in their limited time in the post-season also declined when that five-unit in front was rotated.

The same is true for Giroux, which attempts a much lower pass rate (and communicates less often). Ideally, there are more puck moves, not less, than a player in a bumper position should deal the disc to players who are not under the same pressure.

Shot quality and pre-shot movement help explain why Florida’s projected goal level is low – from season highs (7.11 goals per 60) and beyond deadline (7.46), all the way to an average of just 5.45 per 60. Although the Panthers have exceeded expectations throughout the regular season with their ultimate talent, at least they had a stronger offensive creation behind it to garner support.

Hands can also come into the fold when looking at teams that are tied on passes and miss more shots. It took the Panthers time to figure out how best to model with a new looking five-forward unit.

Ekblad is right-handed, which is different from Barkov who skated in his role. By playing Barkov on the right circle, he can set up with an impromptu to improve his shot angle. When he’s not in that position, Jiro is right-handed. Meanwhile, the left Huberdo remains at his side, making him less of a threat to be shot. This might explain why he didn’t turn, despite his increased shot rate.

Although Huberdeau is in an ideal position to set up his teammates, it can be difficult for a player like Giroux to receive the pass and shoot quickly if it is set up sideways.

The goalie has more time to respond and reset, as opposed to being tested with one timer. Therefore, the current formation with the hand in mind can reduce the number of double threats present in the upper unit. This is why Giroux and Huberdeau’s approach is one solution that might be worth trying instead of swapping Barkov and Giroux in the right slot and circle.

Another answer would probably be to adjust who’s in the top unit, especially when Florida chooses a five-front unit.

Carter Verhaeghe can help the Panthers regroup faster, seeing him as one of the best in entering the area with a puck on his wand when he has less time and space in 5-on-5. Perhaps he should consider Duclair or try to run this unit, especially with his first-round MVP-caliber play in mind.

The dangers of having a five-man unit can be how the team holds the territory. That wasn’t actually an issue in this team’s regular season – and a lot of that likely has to do with Barkov’s defensive instincts and his ability to keep the blue streak. But it is clear that preparing in the formation and maintaining offensive pressure has become one thing no matter who is in this senior unit. So, it doesn’t hurt to have a player the team knows they can carry back up fast on the ice.

The Power Game isn’t the only area where the Panthers don’t feature as an offensive force have been throughout the regular season. But every missed opportunity at the advantage is dwindling. And now when he’s a gun on one side of the standoff, and a legit flaw on the other, he’s catching up to Florida, who are two losses away from the end of the season.

Data via Sportlogiq

2022-05-21 15:46:00

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