The Power Play: First Unit
Rickard Rakell – Ryan Getzlaf – Ondrej Kase
Hampus Lindholm – Cam Fowler
Rationale: At some stage, the Anaheim Ducks are going to need to score, and score quickly. Getzlaf, with his Captain Dad strength and elite passing ability, is a no brainer to run out in this situation. So too, the Ducks only 30 goal scorer in Rakell. Their already apparent chemistry keeps this duo together. Kase moves up to provide energy and spark on the unit.
While his scoring took a significant dip when he was moved into a top 6 role in the past, a year of strength gains may help offset any difficulties he once had, and his underlying numbers while playing with Getzlaf were very strong. With a lack of heavy scoring defencemen, Lindholm plays the straight man on the defensive end, while Fowler shifts to his off-wing and plays the rovers role where he alternates with Getzlaf as the primary passing lane option.
It is also worth noting here, that Getzlaf can sometimes play a high-risk, high-reward game, that can appear rife with turnovers if passing lanes are interrupted or one goes askew. Eakins should be accepting and even advocating this style of play, as they will almost certainly score more on the power-play than they will give up. However, playing two defencemen, even with one playing almost as an additional forward, will provide a little more defensive coverage in this should things go awry.
It’s hard to say what attributes the sports science staff will be tracking during games, however, we can assume that they will be monitoring player loading and fatigue in some capacity. Assuming one of the above players is fatiguing and requires some additional rest, the suggested replacement player would likely be Troy Terry. His passing game would mesh well with a unit that is more reliant on puck movement than overpowering their opposition. Should this be the case, I would suggest that he take on the rover’s role from Fowler, which would provide him a growing experience in running a power-play. Nonetheless, a rebuilding team should be putting their youthful players in positions to succeed, and placing them on the power-play is one of the simplest solutions to finding them easy ice time.
The Power Play: Second Unit
Nick Ritchie – Adam Henrique – Daniel Sprong
Jakob Silfverberg – Josh Manson
Rationale: If the unit prior would be the primary power-play unit, then this could easily be the second. Moving the defensively responsible Silfverberg to one of the defensive slots, adds a volume shooting forward to the mix for a four-forward, one-defenceman, unit. A unit configuration which has seen increasing popularity over the past few seasons. He is able to play the rovers role, cutting against the grain from his off-wing with his quick release, and providing a means for him to bump his scoring output which may suffer somewhat if left in traditional 3rd line minutes.
Manson’s heavier shot is well set on the other wing, which would be helped through by a strong front of net presence in Ritchie. Sprong provides a mercurial point of difference as a shooter, and Henrique the solid veteran presence, upon that unit. We know that historically a players power-play performance typically remains stable until it begins a relatively rapid decline around 30 years of age, thus Henrique should still be able to provide value in this facet of his the game even should he continue to show a decline in other areas.
Jones could be introduced onto this unit to add to his experience bank. His speed is unlikely to be a differentiating factor on the power-play, however, at his heart, he is a somewhat traditional power forward. Thus using his strength and size would be beneficial to this units make up. Additionally, giving Jones a chance to work on his finishing in close during an in-game scenario may help to unlock his stifled offensive game. He may have been pushed into a bottom 6 role thus far in his career, but he’s too young to be locked into it just yet.
While the Getzlaf unit above would play a more finesse style, this unit would be closer to the traditional Anaheim Ducks method of volume shooting from the point through traffic and attempting to put away rebounds. Thus points of difference are created upon the same power play with different unit configurations. Historically, the Ducks have given very little time to their second unit. However, given the spread of scoring talent between the two units, the differences in their playing styles, and with a commitment to managing player loading, it seems plausible that the Ducks could play both units relatively interchangeably depending on what is happening on any given day.