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Know Thy Enemy: Flames Power Play Preview

Let's hope the Flames' top power play unit used up all their goals against the Canucks.

Jiri Hudler celebrates his power play goal in Game 6 against Vancouver.
Jiri Hudler celebrates his power play goal in Game 6 against Vancouver.
Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames' regular season power play converted at 18.8%, good for 14th in the league. They caught fire against the Vancouver Canucks, going 5 for 18 in six games, which comes out to a 27.8% conversion rate. Only the Minnesota Wild finished the first round with a better power play.

Who's Who?

Johnny Gaudreau's four power play points have him tied for the playoff lead with the now eliminated Colin Wilson. Bob Hartley's PP units are a lot easier to predict than Paul Maurice's were because neither injury nor lack of production has forced him to change things up lately. All five power play goals during the Vancouver series came from the top unit.

1st Unit

Johnny Gaudreau — Sean MonahanJiri Hudler

Kris RussellDennis Wideman

2nd Unit

Sam BennettMikael BacklundJoe Colborne

T.J. BrodieDavid Schlemko

Let's Watch Some Goals

Like all good power plays, Calgary's relies on puck movement, and lots of it. This play starts of with four quick passes that move from behind the net (Hudler) to the bottom of the left circle (Wideman) to above the right circle (Gaudreau) to the top of the umbrella (Russell) to the left circle (Wideman). While all this is going on, Hudler moves from behind the net to in front of it, where he gets the tip of Wideman's one-timer. The only Flame who doesn't touch the puck is Monahan, who does his job by drawing Luca Sbisa toward him and away from Wideman. Perfect execution by all five players.

Notice how once Wideman starts skating down the wall toward the puck, Monahan begins to skate back toward the point in case either Wideman loses the puck or chooses to pass it back. Neither of these things end up happening, but it bodes well for these guys that Monahan makes those kinds of decisions. The goal is scored because Hudler and Wideman then make a couple of nice passes, but it is also scored because Alexander Edler seems to expect the puck to go past Hudler behind the net, and when Hudler ends up gaining possession and passing back to Wideman, Edler doesn't have time to get back and cover Gaudreau, the eventual goal scorer.

Against the Ducks

During the Flames' five regular season games against the Ducks, they weren't quite as good with the extra man, converting on 3 of 23 chances (13.0%). Here is the prettiest of their three power play goals:

I'm sure Clayton Stoner's lack of footspeed didn't help, but even if he could skate like Scotty, he wouldn't get to Gaudreau in time unless he identified him as the dangerous man about three seconds earlier (which is an eternity in transition hockey time). In fairness, Jakob Silfverberg isn't going to put this play on his resume either.