During the offseason, I had a discussion with Rudy Kelly in the comments of a Battle of California post about whether or not Carlyle would put Ryan Getzlaf back on the point for the power play. I said it really depended on whose decision it was to pull him in the first place. Getzlaf had lobbied for the position and Carlyle had explained, rather adequately, why he was pulled. Unless Newell Brown, now working in Vancouver, was a major part of the decision, it's hard to think much has changed.
Well, the new decision to try Bobby Ryan on the back end would seem to seal Getzlaf's fate for now. It would also give credence to Carlyle's explanation that Getzlaf is much more important working down low, moving the puck, retrieving the puck, than he is up top. And in Ryan and Visnovsky, the Ducks employ guaranteed shooters on the back end, something they've missed since Pronger. They also have two potential rovers. It's an interesting power play look in the first Anaheim man-advantage system after the Lockout that will feature none of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer or Newell Brown.
When Brown, the Ducks' assistant coach in charge of the power play, did not have his contract renewed this year, a commenter came on here with a bit of 'good riddance' to which I had an immediate spit take. The Anaheim power play was frustrating last year, but let's look at the numbers during Newell Brown's second stint with the Ducks:
|2009-10||Success Rate||Rank||2006-07||Success Rate||Rank|
|Home PP%||26.10%||1st||Home PP%||23.40%||5th|
|Road PP%||15.10%||20th||Road PP%||21.10%||1st|
|PPG/PP Opp||63/300||23rd in Opp||PPG/PP Opp||89/398||18th in Opp|
|2008-09||Success Rate||Rank||2005-06||Success Rate||Rank|
|Home PP%||22.90%||6th||Home PP%||21.50%||6th|
|Road PP%||24.50%||3rd||Road PP%||14.30%||24th|
|PPG/PP Opp||73/309||28th in Opp||PPG/PP Opp||87/480||16th in Opp|
|PPG/PP Opp||60/361||12th in Opp|
As you can see from the chart above, last year was, by no means, Brown's worst as the Ducks' power play field general. Best power play at home in the league isn't something you leave off your resume, after all. And considering the coaching staff was trying to force an unfamiliar Ryan Whitney to play the top shot and a struggling Wisniewski fumbled more than his share of cross ice passes on the man-advantage, it was really a story of the Road power play number of 15.1%. Again, though, from the chart above, you can see that the Ducks have come up with bad road numbers before, without (well, mostly without) Niedermayer and Selanne in 07-08 and with Niedermayer and Selanne in 05-06.
Overall, the Brown-Niedermayer era was one that stumbled a bit when adding new pieces, but ultimately found a groove to put them in the Top 5 in the league. In talking to Newell Brown last year about his Ducks power plays, he is quick to credit his players, and even modest about the 1999 unit (which was statistically the third best in the last 20 years), saying that there was so much less in terms of scouting back then that you could run the same plays every game. And, of course, a unit of Marty McInnis, Steve Rucchin, Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya and Fredrik Olausson helped. But he was also quick to note that today's special teams game is so well-scouted that you have to create different looks every game. Which he does. Vigneault didn't hire this guy for nothing.
Obviously, it helps to be able to get it to Selanne as he teleports behind defenders, and the Ducks will still be able to do that this year. It also helps to have a rover/shooter/passer, and Visnovsky offers that. In theory, Ryan replaces Wisniewski's primary asset (you read that correctly) with an accurate shot on net. Then you have Ryan Getzlaf being Ryan Getzlaf below the circles. For now, it looks good on paper, but it is still a 'new day' for a power play whose architect and primary quarterback for the past five years have moved on.
As a team that runs a regular shuttle to the penalty box and never gets its own proper share of power plays (bottom 10 in opportunities the past two years, bottom 15 four out of the last five years), the Ducks are special-teams-reliant. So, it's a new day, but the Anaheim faithful will be watching the sunrise very closely.
Post any game info and lineup changes in the comments.